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Gone Fishin in Krakow by Eric Trapp and Jarek Smietana

This album of breezy and light jazz features trombonist/teacher/chef/restaurant-owner Eric Trapp in partnership with renown Polish guitarist Jarek Smietana. Of the two, Smietana is the true heavy-weight here. He has been named the most popular jazz guitarist in Poland for the last 23 years in Jazz Forum magazine and has recorded with such luminaries as Art Farmer, Freddie Hubbard, Eddie Henderson, John Abercrombie and Joe Zawinul as just a few examples of the many. Trapp is a graduate of Montana State University at Bozeman who owns and is chef at the Continental Divide seasonal restaurant in Ennis, MT. During the winters he teaches at the University of Jazz and Contemporary Music in Krakow, Poland.

The lead line tandem of guitar and trombone is an especially satisfying sound which perfectly fits the eight original and four cover tunes on this recording. The duo leadership perform in perfect concert with each other, matching phrasing and inflection on the melodies in flawless fashion. It is, however, on the solos, where the differences are easily observed. Smietana is a superb artist of the highest order. His solos are impeccable. His blues lines on Gone Fishin' on both acoustic and electric guitar just drip with Chicago hipness. It’s obvious he’s studied long the work of artists such as Albert King and Kenny Burrell, finding ways to incorporate a little of them into his own soulful palette. Every other solo by Smietana is just as flawless, whether he’s swinging mightily on Cheesecake or laying out the coolest groove on First Take, his playing would be greatly diminished by the playing of one more- or the taking away of one less note. His solos are that tight.

Trapp, on the other hand, is not nearly up to Smietana’s standard, and the pairing of the two on side-by-side solos only reinforces this. The trombonist’s lines lack a smooth flow from phrase to phrase and, to be honest, it sounds like he’s struggling with his technique on some of the tunes. His best solo is on the up-tempo Cheesecake, but even here Trapp loses focus as the changes reach their zenith. As a singer, Trapp’s light and slightly breathy voice is pleasing in a post-Chet Baker styled manner, and it’s a great compliment to Smietana’s relaxed and leisurely lines on the Charley Chaplin standard Smile and on the bluesy Gone Fishin’. It’s too bad Trapp only sings on a few tunes.

The accompanying ensemble is good in that they know their role is to support the two leaders and provide solid, well-accented accompaniment in order to help bring out the varying nuances of each soloist. Wylezol’s few solos, in particular, are a delight. Purchase information is available by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Eric Trapp and Jarek Smietana
  • CD Title: Gone Fishin in Krakow
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Independent
  • Rating: One Star
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