JAREK ŚMIETANA & WOJTEK KAROLAK
„WHAT IS GOING ON?”
1. What's Going On 07:47
2. Hu Hu Ha 04:33
3. De Drums 09:19
4. It's Easy To Remember 07:14
5. Compared To What 07:11
6. Prohibition 07:48
7. Alisia 06:19
8. Pamiętasz była jesień 05:37
9. Time To Sing The Blues 05:29
10. Danny Boy 03:32
Jarosław Śmietana - guitars
Wojciech Karolak – Hammond organ, keyboards
Steve Logan - bass, vocals
Krzysztof Dziedzic – drums & percussion
D.J. Gypsyman - scratch (3, 5, 7)
Date of issue: December 2007
Publisher: CD JSR 006
The disc What is Going On? comes just after Autumn Suite, that was many times described by Jarek Śmietana as his work of life. Just before it was issued, when we were talking about his newest “hardware” acquisitions, he was convinced about that. However it is so, that those that are on THAT side of the glass have there own preferences. It is the same with me. The genius of Śmietana is for me in the little quieter, mostly solo playing, in company of small ensembles. This disc is something more, because this is a cooperation with Wojciech Karolak. And that would probably the way I would remember it, if not for the recent death of Steve Logan, that made a disc with his bass and vocal get a new dimension. This is of course psychology and not musicology, but it just is as it is. And let us not forget about the new drummer – Krzysztof Dziedzic, that replaced the usual Śmietana's drummer Adam Czerwiński.
The disc's repertoire is quite differentiated, because besides the title classic Marvin Gaye we have there also pieces of Jarrett, Rogers and Hart, also the Polish classic Kaszycki is represented. For desert we get a melody from Ireland, as always. For us, audiophiles, it can be interesting, that the disc was mastered on a golden substrate. Since the interview I had with Śmietana for Audio www.audio.com.pl , this musician is flirting with high quality sound. The purchases of hardware – for example Sonus Faber and Ancient Audio (among others a turntable made on his exclusive request with a LINN tonearm) and also related to this – at least this is my opinion – a slightly changed sensitivity made us have this well recorded and superbly played disc. After the sonic disaster of the Autumn Suite disc (I cannot help it, but even the special edition on gold with the Ancient Audio logo – CD JSR 005 – doesn't change anything in that aspect) this is a gigantic change for the better.
So put on the disc and – a big surprise: from the first seconds, with deep, saturated Logan's bass, and later with his melo-recitation (with the same characteristic as the bass) we know that it is OK. The sound is nicely positioned in space. In Logan's voice there is some magic, although from time to time some brighter sibilants jump out, but the deep timbre of his voice is kept and it imposes the tone on the recordings it appears in. Also Śmietana's guitars are warm, thick and at the same time with this light, hardening attack of the midrange, that can be heard from Class B tube amplifiers working in overdrive – so it can be heard like in reality. The cymbals are quite clear, but they inform that the resolution of the sound is not highest. They have a nice attack, precise sustain, but without pointing to their weight or kind. The whole sounds as if someone spent much time to make the disc sound with a nice, warm timbre. And he succeeded extremely well, but at the cost of precision. The sound stage does not seem very deep, the happenings are mostly located on the first plane. We should also mention that the timbre of the Hammond organ was captured very nicely. In general – a very nice disc, nicely recorded, one of those that you like to revisit often.
Sound quality: 6/10
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