Wednesday 6 December 2023

'hoshii' by hoshii

Through a variety of projects over the years, Kuba Więcek has long demonstrated his distinct and all-encompassing perception of contemporary jazz.  Citing artists as varied as Flying Lotus and Kanye West as influences who have served as impactful as jazz icons like John Coltrane and Lester Young, Więcek has continually sought to strive beyond the perceived conventional rules of the genre.    

A graduate of the Rytmisk Musikkonservatorium in Copenhagen and the Academy of Music in Krakow, the saxophonist and composer has since continued to garner numerous awards, successes and achievements through his work as a collaborator and producer for other artists as well as cementing himself as a revered performer and band leader in his own right.  

Debuting in 2017 as leader of the Kuba Więcek Trio - alongside drummer Łukasz Żyta and double-bassist Michał Barański - 'Another Raindrop' elegantly captured the trio's lush and imaginative aesthetic raising expectations for their subsequent releases, 'Multitasking' (2019) and the trio's collaborative album with neo-soul and jazz vocalist Paulina Przybysz, 'Kwiateczki' (2021).  A really brilliant project, 'Kwiateczki' was bolstered by a notably terrific title track and inspired music video that is demonstrative of the creative brilliance involved by all in the project.

Such imagination however has gone on to define Więcek's approach to music-making - having further adopted the producer's hat for projects like Polish rapper Ten Typ Mes and his album 'Hello Baby' (2021) and served as collaborator for projects by Kamil Piotrowiczz, Ralph Alessi, Emil Miszk & The Sonic Syndicate, Więcek seems to continually embrace new opportunities to delve into new environments and regard music-making in entirely new contexts.

Under the guise of his current project, hoshii, Więcek seems to have found the appropriate vessel to help unify all of his seemingly disparate ideas and concepts and fuse them into a fairly sensational project.  With the quartet's self-titled debut, hoshii openly embrace influences from hip-hop to synth-heavy compositions all under the wider umbrella of contemporary jazz.

Backed by an inspired ensemble of musicians, Więcek's sax and production are brought to life by pianist Grzegorz Tarwid, Max Mucha on electric bass and Miłosz Berdzik on drums.  And it's a sensational playground the quartet have been afforded here - from the eerie nu-wave synths of 'hawaii' to the unbridled energy of 'dance of hopes and dissapointments'.  'house of hoshii' boasts a sublime mid-tempo groove harking back to the late-90s/early-00s productions of a Jay Dee or Pete Rock (as several of the tracks affectionately do), while the boundless intricacies of 'wanderlust' mark a perfect album closer and a track that seems to reinvent everything that came before it.

hoshii - as an album and a concept - serves as a wonderful testament to Kuba Więcek's overarching musical vision.  An unhindered, no rules approach to jazz that feels like an epic exploration and one that we're thrilled to have secured a seat in the car for.

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