Jazz Band Ball Orchestra-40 years

Polskie Nagrania MUZA PNCD 620 April 2002

1.Blue Lou (M Sampson - Mills), 2.St. Louis Blues (W.C. Handy), 3.Fascinating Rhythm (Gershwin), 4.I'm beginning to see the light (Ellington - Hodges - George), 5.Rockin Rhythm (Ellington - Carney - Mills), 6.Ballad Medley: You've changed (Cary Fisher), In a sentimental mood (Ellington - Mills - Kurtz), Tenderly (Lawrence - Gross ), 7.S' Wonderful (Gershwin), 8.A foggy day (In London town) (Gershwin), 9.Cheerokee (Ray Noble

Forty years ago, Jazz Band Ball was getting started and everything was different. While First Secretary Gomulka smoked his "Sport" cigarettes, snipped in half, in a glass cigarette holder, elegant jazzmen, our celebrants among them, sported black leather jackets and thin ties, also of leather. On Krakow’s main square by the just-opened club Pod Jaszczurami, "Warszawa" cars cruised the streets and the dream of most students was a vacation in Yugoslavia, and an internship in Hungary, which is where people used to bring the above-mentioned leather jackets back from. On dance nights in the newly established students’ clubs, it was hip to dance mostly to what’s known as traditional jazz, whose style came out of a fascination with Louis Armstrong and his European imitators, from groups like those of Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball, Chris Barber, and the Dutch Swing College. The musical book store on Floriañska was tossed a few copies of Coltrane’s "Blue Train", while the imported bookstore over by the Orbis got a couple of Jimmy Smith and Wild Bill Davidson titles. I heard Jazz Band Ball for the first time at the Krakow Philharmonic, during Jazz All Souls’ Day in 1962. Playing drums then was Jacek Brzycki, the son of a doctor (which was a selling point where my mother was concerned), Jacek Boratyñski was on bass, Janek Boba on piano, Rysiu Kajo Kwaœniewski on clarinet, Zdziszek Garley on trombone, and Jan Kudyk was the trumpet player. I was a young high school student at the time, staying up nights voraciously reading Leopold Tyrmand’s "At the Edge of Jazz", Slawomir Mro¿ek’s "Escape to the South", and the monthly "Jazz", published by Józef Balcerak. I used to go to concerts with friends, including ones by Jazz Band Ball, and we’d make bets as to whether Kajo would screw up in "On the Persian Square" or not.

It’s been 40 years, or practically a whole adult life, and I continue to run into Jazz Band Ball at concerts in clubs and on big stages, although under a changed name for the last few years. Of course, this isn’t the JBB of years past any more. The only member remaining from the original line-up is Jan Kudyk. Time also influenced their musical style, as popular music has taken many a turn over these years. Rock and roll arose, as did jazz rock, Miles Davis opened new paths for modern jazz several times, and so the style of the music played by the JBBO had to change. From "imitating Satchmo", being fascinated with Bix Beiderbeck, through classic European jazz to the jazz of the salons. That last change is a self-styled americanisation of European jazz, which this recording is the evidence of. It is also evidence of considerable courage, as eschewing the more "crude" and noisy Europeanised dixieland for drawing more directly on the work of the American Masters, particularly the genius Duke Ellington, is a major change of perspective on the music one plays. It’s not without reason that "new blood" has been introduced into the group, which in turn resolves many stylistic quandaries, because how is one to reverse the development of young people, whose jazz fascinations don’t have much to do with the jazz Masters of Harlem from 60 years ago?

The recording you have in your hand is not so much proof of longevity as it is of loyalty to the ideals of youth, and that’s what we love Jazz Band Ball Orchestra for.

Grzegorz Tusiewicz Translation Charles White

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Jazz Band Ball Orchestra
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