Haftor Medbøe and Konrad Wiszniewski – Poiesis
(Subcontinental Records 2023. Album review by Fiona Mactaggart)
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Evoking Stephan Micus’ spacious and rich music, this entirely improvised album from Haftor Medbøe (guitar and effects) and Konrad Wiszniewski (saxophones), is a gem.
Norwegian-born, Edinburgh-based Medbøe is omnipresent on the Scottish jazz scene. Professor of Music at Edinburgh Napier University and founder of the Scottish Jazz Archive, he includes cultural identity in jazz in his interests and runs his own label, Copperfly. As an active musician he collaborates widely, tours internationally, and records extensively.
Here he partners Konrad Wiszniewski, an award-winning saxophonist (including Best Instrumentalist twice at the Scottish Jazz Awards) who is an established member of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and co-leads, with pianist Euan Stevenson, the classical and Scottish folk-inspired New Focus.
Poiesis is Greek for “an act or process of creation” and its ten tracks are presented in the order of their conception. Sometimes poetic (Celestial Veil and The Soul Selects), sometimes obscure (Fortune’s Expensive Smile and Dances like a Bomb), the individual titles reflect the music’s meditative ambience.
In opening track Exordium (the Latin for “introduction to a discourse or treatise”), Medbøe’s electric guitar develops a blanket of apparently looped, altered noise as the foundation for the duo’s adventures. Thereafter, this delicate mesh of guitar textures underpins and gracefully interacts with Wiszniewski’s rich acoustic tones.
The sax flutters and soars, sometimes with a serpentine languor, as in A Bridge Away and Wrinkles of the Road, at others with great insistence, as in Molten Blue. Their unhurried dance induces in the listener a feeling of great calm.
Indeed, this ethereal, roomy and ruminative album truly takes the listener to the zone the duo inhabits: that of careful mutual attention within a deep meditative space. In other words, this is improvisation at its most beautiful.
Available digitally and on cassette.
Fiona Mactaggart lives in Edinburgh and writes about music on Scottish Jazz Space