by Icrom Bigrad
Michal Martyniuk though born in Poland, resided in New Zealand since 2007, where he earned his degree in Jazz Performance from Auckland University. Michal won 2nd place in the Made in NY Jazz Competition, that was judged by Lenny White, Mike Stern and Randy Brecker. Furthering his footprint from a global standpoint. It was when he made the conscious decision to return to Poland for his debut recording Nothing To Prove, at Cavatina Studios that he got back to his roots and signed with Polish based label SJ Records to launch his career. The album features: Michal Martyniuk – piano; Jakub Skowronski – sax; Kuba Mizeracki – guitar; Bartek Chojnacki – double bass; Kuba Gudz – drums; Miguel Funetes – conga, bongos, percussion; and Tama Waipara – vocals.
“Nothing to Prove” slowly and methodically layers in parts until the lyrical melody enters. Martyniuk and Mizeracki play the melody together as Gudz’ drum work swirls around their lines. Martyniuk’s sense of composition is one of colors and logical evolution of motifs within a balanced form. The band does a great job of creating a musical space that is relaxing, but still maintains interest and drama within the music. Martyniuk’s piano solo contains beautiful chordal voicings and astonishing right-hand flurries. Mizeracki’s solo is relaxed and his use of bends and repeated notes with interesting rhythms builds interest and adds to the music.
“River” is a gorgeous composition by Martyniuk, the melody and harmonies are a nice cross of jazz and classical. Funetes congas add another dimension to this track as does vocalist Waipara and saxophonist Skowronski. Martyniuk’s sense of orchestration brings in color from the various instruments and voice to create musical pastels that add interesting textures. Martyniuk has the gift of being able to say a lot musically in very subtle and profound ways, both as a soloist and a composer. Mizeracki’s distorted guitar sound for the solo was a good choice as it matches the energy and mood of the composition.
Nothing to Prove is a poignant album title, as certainly Michal has nothing to prove and everything to gain from his confident and poised abilities. His compositional point is firmly grounded and his compass for strong performances clearly reads with strong musicianship. A strong debut from a highly talented leader.