Story and Photos by Brad Wasleth, Copyright 2009
The 2009 edition of the All Souls' Day Jazz Festival was held November 9, 2009, at the Chopin Theatre. This annual fest is a celebration of the Polish people's love of life and jazz music. With twelve bands performing on two stages, the evening ran the gamut from a set by one of Poland's favorite jazz guitarist's Jarek Smietana, to enjoyable sets from Krzysztof Pabian's sensitive trio, fusion band Jazzmatess, and poet/actress/puppeteer Kinga Modjeska's intense spoken word appearance with the Scott Angst Quartet, among others. This occasion was also the premiere concert of the Agnieszka Iwanska Quartet's new CD, All That I Am.
Latin-tinged, funky, and complete with synthesizers, the strong new release is somewhat of a throwback to the old school melodic sounds of Basia, Sade and Anita Baker. The album features songs written by Iwanska with her keyboardist Paul Scherer, who wrote and arranged all of the music, while also producing the album. Iwanska's solid and vibrant quartet, led by Scherer, consisted of saxophonist Scott Angst, guitarist Freddie Franken, bassist Stacy McMichael, drummer Paul Townsend and percussionist Paul Abella. The well-rehearsed group provided an excellent base from which Iwanska could soar, and she more than met the task, displaying both a smooth and sensual intonation and phrasing, as well as surprising power.
Energetic numbers like the title track, the bouncy "Thinking About You," and catchy "Wonderland" had the audience smiling and tapping their toes, while the luminous ballad/lullaby "Midnight Moonlight" was equally memorable. The Iwanska/Scherer compositions are filled with light, utterly joyous and as welcome as a summer breeze. A wonderful and truly enjoyable set from this lovely up-and-coming young singer, her band and her collaborator/music director, Scherer. And a delightful night of music put on by our Polish community - I look forward to next year's festival.
We've just reviewed Agnieszka's new CD here.