Jan Kopinski’s Reflektor – Mirrors
(Jazz Services JSLCD005. CD review by Chris Parker)
Although it contains more than a few discernible traces of saxophonist Jan Kopinski‘s characteristic 1980s Pinski Zoo sound (a full-on, multi-textured roar/strident wail over a hypnotically heavy rhythm-section growl and clatter that inspired contemporary bands such as Led Bib), Mirrors is a perfect example of his later, more reflective style of music-making.
Supported by his son Stefan Kopinski (electric bass)and daughter Janina Kopinska (viola), plus ex-Zoo keyboardist Steve Iliffe, drummer Patrick Illingworth and vocalist Melanie Pappenheim, Kopinski has produced a suite-like collection of nine pieces inspired by his twenty-year history of visiting and collecting images of Poland, for performance via a mixed-media project commissioned by Opera North.
Perhaps the defining image (used on the cover and on the CD itself) is Warsaw’s Palace of Culture, a Soviet-era brute of a building that was always slyly described in official Polish guides to the city as ‘overshadowing’ the Polish capital, but which now apparently attracts mostly (ironic) affection from young Poles. Such ambiguous, nuanced and highly individual reactions characterise the entire work, which ranges unaffectedly from romantic melodies to multiphonics and effects, and from passionate free-ish skirls to the most plaintive and plangent of folkish material (the very beginning of ‘Folk House’, for instance, is oddly reminiscent of ‘The Lark in the Morning’).
Kopinski’s is a pleasantly grainy saxophone sound occasionally capable of producing melancholy meditativeness, and infused as it is with an intensely personal passion and urgency, this is a consistently affecting but powerful album from one of the UK’s most distinctive composing musicians.