AUTOPORTRETY ( SELF - PORTRAITS )
"The music and the poetry present on this album are a wonderful example of the vivacity of the contemporary Jazz & Poetry idiom
in Poland and in many respects one of the most ambitious attempts of its kind to date. The poetry of Miron Białoszewski,
one of Poland's twentieth Century most important literary figures, is not only expressive and profound but also difficult, complex and often controversial. His unconventional usage of language structures, word games and other idiosyncratic characteristics of his
Avant-Garde approach to poetry make his poems extremely awkward to combine with music, requiring an acrobatic ability both from the composer and the vocalist.
Gary Guthman, an American composer / arranger / trumpeter and a Jazz veteran living in Warsaw, deserves the highest praise for coalescing Białoszewski's words with his music, presenting a coherent, harmonious musical flow which compliments the poetry wonderfully. What is even more astonishing is that the music is beautifully melodic and swinging, in contrast to the Avant-Garde spirit of the poetry itself. Perhaps it is a reflection of Białoszewski's passion of music, which is inherently embedded in his poetry, despite its external enmity.
Sasha Strunin is of course the absolute Diva of this project, singing the thorny, complicated texts with elegance, flair and incredible passion. Her depth of expression and the power of phrasing are truly hair-raising, blood-curdling and spine-chilling. Her total and unconditional dedication to this project is a beacon other Artist should follow. A relative newcomer to the Polish Jazz idiom, Sasha is today surely one of its greatest treasures."
"Self-portraits" in terms of music is, contrary to appearances, very accessible material. What can constitute an unbeatable barrier are
the texts. The poetic layer is, after all, the poems of Miron Białoszewski. Yes, I know, I know, the poet's fans are many, but even they have
to admit that the poetry is sometimes incredibly abstract, and above all, not very communicative. It even reminds us of learning a new language, redefining the existing ways of communication, and blaming them from the usual conventions. At the same time, it is rarely certain that ultimately understanding the content was the right direction, hence the contact with the texts is like wandering the maze.
What certainly works in the case of Białoszewski's poems is the common play with the sound of words, which in turn perfectly translates
into the melodic nature of phrases sung by Sasha Strunin. For these reasons, I am able to understand this procedure,
while the charge of attacking artistry drawn from the Academy of Fine Arts will not be shot at all.
Despite this drawback, in the end, "Self-portraits" is proof of the amazing artistic evolution of Sasha Strunin.
She will not be called back to the lounges, she will not make the radio play her songs on the power. From the artistic point of view,
however, it is undoubtedly a victory, and even if we do not deal with anything revealing, even if we look at it in terms of ambition,
the authors of this album can be proud of themselves."
Rafał Samborski ( Interia muzyka )