Dominik Strycharski – recorders (soprano in B, alto, tenor, bass)
Straight Up and Down
Hat and Beard
Sam & Sung
Fundacja Słuchaj FSR003/2017
I don’t know about anywhere else in the world, but in England in the 70s, musical education in schools began with the recorder. Now, there may be a lot of logic to this (relatively easy to get a sound and a tune compared to more complicated instruments) but it probably put a lot of people off studying music at an early age. For my money, they’d have done a lot better handing out Les Pauls and Stratocasters. Anyway, luckily not everyone is so easily discouraged and now here’s Dominik Strycharski with an entire album of live solo jazz recorder.
And guess what? It’s pretty damn good. Choosing to focus on Eric Dolphy’s flute tunes is a smart move. It gives the whole thing enough familiarity to draw the average jazz listener in – with tunes like Hat and Beard, Iron Man, Straight Up and Down – and yet the change of instrument provides an utterly fresh take. The selection ends with a couple of Strycharski’s own tunes which to my ear have a slightly folky influence but fit right in with Dolphy’s fearless compositions.
Whichever recorder is in use on a particular tune, it has a raw, exaggeratedly breath-y tone resulting in a sense of both immediacy and intimacy, also emphasised by the absence of other instruments and the live, one-take setting. Some of the actual sounds here are also quite astonishing – check out some of the descending runs on Hat and Beard. This is Dolphy stripped bare and there’s no place to hide. Not that Strycharski is trying, his sheer energy and obvious enthusiasm for the source material is absolutely gripping.
The category label, “solo jazz recorder” has to be one of the smallest in the shop, but after listening to this disc, I’m glad it exists even if the total population can be counted on single finger. Anyway, it’s about quality not quantity and this disc most definitely has it.