Contemporary Noise Sextet – Ghostwriter’s Joke (2011)

Contemporary Noise Sextet - Ghostwriter's Joke (2011)
Artist: Contemporary Noise Sextet
Album: Ghostwriter’s Joke
Genre: Contemporary Jazz, Free Jazz
Origin: Poland
Released: 2011
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Walk With Marylin (06:07)
Morning Ballet (06:43)
Is That Revolution Sad? (04:54)
Old Typewriter (06:43)
Chasing Rita (06:43)
Norman’s Mother (09:14)
Kill The Seagull, Now! (04:29)


The Contemporary Noise Sextet are a contemporary jazz sextet (obviously) from Poland, which is something of a mecca for the fully paid up deep music heads these days, with the likes of Nigel Kennedy (one time child classical violin virtuoso from the UK, now wizened alternative jazz and avant-guard explorer and impresario) using the country as a base. Yes, interesting musical things happen in Poland and slowly find their way out to the rest of us. So what can one expect from a group called the Contemporary Noise Sextet hailing from such a place? Challenging and obscure music which is more about concepts then listening pleasure? Inaccessible atonal cacophonies which are rather more endured then listened to? Actually no.

Despite the name suggesting – as the PR sheet says – “noisy music for the chosen ones”, this album has kept me absolutely captivated for the week and a half I’ve had the CD. Modern Jazz which sits comfortably shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Polar Bear and the Portico Quartet. I don’t like the term modern jazz, it conjures images of tedious self indulgent beard stroking, but if Polar Bear can be termed thus, then that goes a long way to reducing the negative effect of the phrase for me – I’m a massive Polar Bear fan.

I digress… on the first listen, my immediate thought was of the parallels that could be drawn with Miles Davies during his modal phase, in particular the album Kinda Blue – 1959. I think this is due to the fact that the music is often sparsely composed and arranged, and at a tempo that allows the listener some reflection and time to actually make a connection with it on an emotional level as much as the use of a modal framework within the compositions themselves. That and the fact that the trumpet player has definitely spent a lot of time listening to and drawing inspiration from the mute style of Davies, and why wouldn’t he? Miles Davies is one of the landmark figures in all of music, not just jazz, whether you are aware of his influence or not it’s there I assure you. There is also a hint of punk energy at times, with comparisons to John Zorn not out of the question, in particular his Naked City manifestation. Gosh, I’m digressing again. Jazz has such a rich heritage that it’s easy to get sidetracked looking at the various branches or what came before and how it all relates to all the other parts. This album makes good use of that musical heritage (see how I’ve brought it back?), and pushes it forward with skill and good taste, avoiding the pitfalls of technical extremity over good music.

This is the fourth album form the Contemporary Noise Sextet, including a soundtrack written for a piece of Theatre. The music is composed by the pianist and band leader Kuba Kapsa, who’s brainchild the project is. Kapsa also arranged all the tracks on the album, albeit with help and suggestions from the band (hard to imagine this not being the case), and is clearly a highly talented guy. In the PR from the label – Denovali Records – it suggests that the compositions are ‘a musical visualisation/commentary to life stories of people both known to everyone and unknown to anyone,’ I’m not sue if I see it that way myself, but music is completely open to individual interpretation, isn’t it? You create something with a vision in your own head, but as soon as you capture it and put out there for people to experience, it is then subject to everyone’s personal interpretation of the work.

From the mysterious and atmospheric mood of the opening track “Walk With Marylin,” to the ‘70’s spy soundtrack stylings (in a 7/4 time signature no less) of “Morning Ballet” through to the virtuosic outbursts from the various instruments amidst a sparse, edgy and sometimes gritty musical landscape, this album is right up there with the best of the recent crop or cutting edge jazz outfits.
by Gustave Savy