"Horntet" album review / Blog Polish-Jazz (source)

At the moment I am writing this text, in addition to running this blog, I also co-host the radio show "Muzyka, która leczy" (Music that Heals) with Paweł Ziembą on RadioJAZZ.FM. The idea for its title was suggested to me by the Editor-in-Chief and journalist of this radio, the invaluable Piotr Wickowski. I immediately liked the title, both because it relates to my profession and because it reminds me of what Pharoah Sanders once said about jazz, that it is a "healing force for the world." In some sense. Certainly not literally. But the fact is that when jazz is played with an attitude similar to that of late John Coltrane, meaning spiritual, metaphysical, partly religious, if accompanied by faith, energy, and enthusiasm, this music can revive the dead and shake the foundations of the world. Art Ensemble of Chicago played such music, and - mentioning just a few names off the top of my head - bands led by Henry Threadgill, Wadada Leo Smith, Lester Bowie, Sun Ra, and of course, the aforementioned Pharoah Sanders.

But there have been such groups in Polish jazz as well. I'll mention just a few examples like Free Cooperation, Miłość, and in more recent times, the unforgettable Power of the Horns, whose debut album "Alaman" coincided with the emergence of a new, talented generation of musicians in Polish jazz. Members of this generation played on that album, including Piotr Damasiewicz, Maciej Obara, Marek Pospieszalski, Paweł Niewiadomski, Jakub Mielcarek, Max Mucha, and Dominik Wania. It was also, if I remember correctly, the first recording and the first album released by the For Tune record label.

And today, history has come full circle, as the 99th "madżentowa" (jazz) album in the For Tune series has landed in my hands, recorded by the band Horntet. Listening to this album, again, just like over a decade ago, I felt a shiver, my hair stood on end, I felt filled with light, and my foot - as they say - "tapped" on its own. Once again, names of young, completely unknown musicians flash before my eyes, although they belong to the next generation: saxophonists Robert Wypasek and Szymon Ziółkowski, pianist Bartłomiej Leśniak, double bassist Mikołaj Sikora, and drummer Piotr Przewoźniak. Who knows what future awaits them, but judging by this debut album, it could be just as interesting as what awaited the members of the already legendary Power of the Horns.

Moreover, today one can listen to the music of these newcomers just as well as that played by the seasoned veterans! Especially since the sound of this quintet directly refers to the golden era of hard bop. Hearing the wonderful dialogues between the alto and tenor saxophones, the percussive style of piano playing, and the classically playing rhythm section immediately brings to mind albums recorded by Cannonball Adderley with John Coltrane, sometimes accompanied by Wynton Kelly or McCoy Turner on the piano, and such bassists as Paul Chambers with Jimmy Cobb on drums. Fortunately, in addition to catchy compositions played in this style like "Falling Up" or "Coś nowego" (Something New), this album also features Thelonious Monk's standard "Pannonica" and more reflective pieces like "Przebudzenia" (Awakenings) or "Ace of Bass." But overall, this album is a tribute to the golden era of New York hard bop.

While everything sounds good, even masterful, it is worth noting that especially in those tracks where silence should prevail, one can still hear how much work these young musicians have ahead of them, despite the immense talent they possess. It should also be mentioned honestly that while the idea of a nostalgic journey to the land of hard bop is charming for a debut, if the artists were to repeat it on subsequent albums, it would be - for example, for the person writing these words - disappointing. The straightforward work of the rhythm section in these times sounds archaic compared to what a discerning listener would expect today. Also, the structure of the songs, where clearly defined parts are exposed as "solos," is already, from my point of view, "passe." Today, I would expect above all the collaboration of instruments and the search for something absolutely unique and individual in terms of sound. I mention these reservations not to criticize, because the music on this album is played brilliantly, it's a pleasure to listen to, and I like it. But it is a reminder of what I already know, not a proposal for something new, personal, something I haven't heard before. And that's an important difference. Therefore, I will be curious to see which direction these incredibly talented musicians choose for their next recordings.

 Maciej Nowotny

"Horntet" album review / (source)

There is something incredible in the sonic breadth that this five-member band achieves, and in the casual grace with which the artists serve up this dense musical concoction. At every moment of this music, there is something wonderful happening, simultaneously a joy and energy that is inexhaustible. From the very first moment, the musicians pamper us with pure, full force, even when the atmosphere takes on a more lyrical tone at times. The astonishing freshness, dynamism, and creativity of this ensemble make this work a unique experience.

 Jacek Brun

"Horntet" album review / Polska Płyta Polska Muzyka (source)

Horntet draws on strong elements of 1950s/60s jazz, but it's capable of modernizing the sonic message with innovative elements that shape their music in a quite original way. This is evident on their debut album simply titled "Horntet," which was created in collaboration with the National Institute of Music and Dance as part of the "Jazz Phonographic Debut" program. One could consider this as a sort of recommendation, although in their case, the music itself is the best advocate, stemming from great erudition but primarily from a broad artistic vision that distinctly marks this project.

It's decidedly lively musical material, full of vigor and intoxicating, phenomenally flowing energy. It would be accurate to say that this album is a collision of various intentions, somehow converging into a fully artistic "narrative." And it's all orchestrated by the musicians themselves: Bartłomiej Leśniak (piano), Robert Wypasek (tenor and soprano saxophone), Szymon Ziółkowski (alto and soprano saxophone), Mikołaj Sikora (double bass), and Piotr Przewoźniak (drums).

Professionally materialized musical illumination arises here on the basis of classical principles, tradition, but also modern jazz. Each proposition they present is intriguing with flair and skillful refinement of certain references, which build a strong foundation for the whole. Particularly outstanding are the parts of the propositions where there's something akin to contrast, where each artist seeks to mark their presence through their own representative style, while simultaneously referencing the harmony of another musical motif. Interestingly, everything harmonizes perfectly, creating a certain completeness ("Przewoźnik").

In some places, there's an interesting juxtaposition of classical motifs - sometimes taking a forefront role with the piano - with the whimsicality of the wind instruments, transforming the accepted strategy in less obvious directions. Moreover, there are many tempo changes here, influencing the overall mood, and in such places, the improvised format becomes like a part of a larger musical spectacle ("Autopilot").

There are also touching, calmer moments, which deepen the emotional side of the project without seeking to amplify direct experiences ("Awakenings"). The album also features a surprising composition, pulled from the repertoire of American pianist Thelonious Monk ("Pannonica"). The new arrangement of this proposition may be surprising, as it significantly deviates from the original, fitting into the language that the band employs (it's worth noting the percussion solo).

There's a lot happening on this album, confirming a high level of commitment and a plethora of ideas, properly distributed in fairly long compositions. This, again, prevents the album from overwhelming with expression and sometimes strong musical intensity. Also, the characteristic polyrhythmic nature of free jazz is not exaggerated, as it's balanced by a kind of swing-like lightness. It should be added that Horntet has excellently managed to translate the mood of yesteryears into the contemporary, giving it a completely new meaning. This is further enhanced by the intensity of expression, as well as significant musical awareness (sensitivity) of all the musicians. It's also creative, yet maintaining certain standards.

This album released by ForTune is a significant, highly positive surprise, and it's worth spreading the word about it to as many people as possible. Due to its length, it doesn't need to be listened to in its entirety, but certainly, every moment of it is worth attention.

 Lukasz Dębowski

"Horntet" album review / Esensja (source)

In summary, it is entirely understandable that a formation active in the jazz scene for four years, achieving considerable success – as evidenced by winning the Best Group award at the 23rd Jazz and Blues Bands Review in Gdynia (2021), the Grand Prix at the Blue Note Poznań Competition (2022), and the first place at the Lotos Jazz Festival 24th Bielska Zadymka Jazzowa (2022) – when the chance finally came to release their debut album, they decided to fill the physical medium to the maximum with their music. As a result, the album titled "Horntet," recorded in March of last year at the Tokarnia 2.0 studio in Nieporęt near Warsaw, features seven compositions, totaling seventy-three minutes. And that was a mistake. If the album had been trimmed by two tracks – the last two could easily have been excluded – it would have become a internally coherent work, fueling anticipation and making the listener, at least myself, eagerly await the continuation.

Meanwhile, the end of the album creates a feeling of saturation, especially considering the final twenty minutes of "Przewoźnik" and "Autopilot," which do not bring anything new to the portrait of the Krakow-Katowice formation. Sometimes – this also applies to art – less means better. However, let's establish some important facts right away: released by For Tune, "Horntet" is an album that truly deserves attention and praise. Listening to it, up to the fiftieth minute, I often felt the excitement and joy of encountering this intriguing, extraordinarily energetic blend of contemporary free jazz with classics from the late 50s and early 60s. However, later on, I felt more and more like a cyclist who had to switch from an asphalt road to a sandy one.

Horntet is a quintet led by pianist (and author of most compositions) Bartłomiej Leśniak, accompanied by saxophonists Robert Wypasek (also associated with Paweł Mańka's Guitar Quintet and Andrzej Kowalski's Guitar Quartet), Szymon Ziółkowski, double bassist Mikołaj Sikora, and drummer Piotr Przewoźniak. For clarification, "Horntet" is not the first album bearing this name; previously, a live recording titled "Live at Radio Katowice" was released, which two years ago was included in the ninth issue of "Jazz Forum." The circulation was limited, reaching only the magazine's subscribers. Four compositions ( "Falling Up", "Pannonica", "Przebudzenia", and "Przewoźnik") were included on that album; a few months later, the quintet recorded them again, this time in the studio. Perhaps it would have been worth giving up one of them, especially since it was already available on CD...

But I won't nitpick anymore! Especially since there is much to praise about Horntet. It is indeed a band that takes no prisoners. However, this does not mean that the musicians do not know how to temper emotions, how to build mood after each fortissimo. Although their foundation is classical, they eagerly delve into improvisations and elements of free jazz, and they do not shy away from the avant-garde of the so-called "third stream" (especially in "Autopilot"). The quintet's instrumentation provides plenty of possibilities: on the one hand, we can expect solo performances by the leader on the piano, on the other hand, energetic duets and dialogues of saxophonists, and finally, dynamic marches of the rhythm section. This is evident, for example, in the opening track "Falling Up," where after a free jazz opening (with the pianist's improvisation and the wind instruments' virtuosity), we are transported – thanks to Leśniak – into the early 60s.

The second track, "Pannonica," is the only piece not signed by a group member. It is a classic by the legendary American pianist Thelonious Monk, which first appeared on the 1957 album "Brilliant Corners." In the original, we heard saxophonists Ernest Henry (alto) and Sonny Rollins (tenor), replaced by Wypasek and Ziółkowski in the Horntet version. However, this does not mean that they duplicate the Americans one-to-one; the Polish "Pannonica" is rather a "variation on the theme," with prominent wind instrument and piano improvisations and a solo performance by the drummer. Above all, the unbridled joy of playing together remains in memory.

"Przebudzenia" is the longest, almost sixteen-minute, chapter of the story. Marked by an extensive piano introduction and moodily dragging wind instruments. Over time, the piece takes on an increasingly unsettling character, affirmed by the heavy (in a doom metal fashion) play of the rhythm section. Interestingly, the other instrumentalists also adapt to Sikora and Przewoźniak, so that, reaching the finale, we can feel almost literally overwhelmed. Fortunately, "Coś nowego" (Something New) makes the oppression immediately pass, and the legs start to "walk" in an increasingly fast and intense rhythm. There is also another opportunity here to highlight the double bass and percussion duet. "Ace of Bass" is, as the title suggests, a monument primarily dedicated to Mikołaj Sikora. He opens this piece and dictates his discourse to his colleagues until the last seconds. It depends on him when the quintet calms down emotions and when it accelerates the tempo.

In "Przewoźnik," we are dealing with a somewhat looser form. There are many changes in tempo and mood, flowing against established patterns. For example, when the classically playing wind instruments are accompanied by an improvising piano. Closer to the end, the drummer has more to say, overshadowing even the soloists. I already mentioned "Autopilot" closing the album. It is the most avant-garde composition on the record, full of disturbing sounds of a prepared piano, which surprisingly contrast with the playfully sounding saxophones in the middle part. In the finale, the improvisations of all instrumentalists interlock. However, strangely, instead of propelling the piece forward, they – at least that's the impression – make the musicians start playing in reverse. Perhaps that was their intention? I complained about the album's length earlier. If you come to the same conclusion, we can handle it in another, very simple way: split it into two parts and listen in fragments. Then we certainly won't feel saturation.

Sebastian Chosiński

Concert at Krokus Jazz Festiwal (source: Jazz Forum 12/2023)

There was also a night club concert at Kwadrat in the plan. The performers were the winners from the previous year's competition, the quintet (temporarily a quartet) Horntet (Bartłomiej Leśniak - keys, Szymon Ziółkowski - as, ss; Mikołaj Sikora - b, and Piotr Przewoźniak - dr). The musicians brought along their recently released studio debut. The album features powerful, youthfully exuberant music that will likely evolve towards more thoughtful and concise forms. However, one cannot deny young men, who are at this stage of life and career where muscles need to be flexed, the right to be themselves! Someday, there will come a time when they will condense, but for now, let them give everything they've got, whatever God has given them. By the way, as I settled comfortably into my chair, sipping on a non-alcoholic beer, and Horntet played a somewhat psychedelic composition called Przebudzenia I experienced the most enjoyable moment of the entire festival.

Adam Domagała

"Horntet" album review / Adam Baruch (source)

This is the debut studio album by Polish Jazz quintet Horntet, led by pianist / composer Bartlomiej Lesniak, with saxophonists Robert Wypasek and Szymon Ziolkowski, bassist Mikolaj Sikora and drummer Piotr Przewozniak. The album presents seven tracks, six of which are original compositions by the quintet members: four by Lesniak and one each by Ziolkowski and Przewozniak, and finally one standard by Thelonious Monk.

The music is all modern Mainstream Jazz, with extensive improvisations and complex arrangements, which result in the tracks being all around ten minutes and beyond in duration. This allows for all the band members to express their individual abilities and experiment with tempi and often extend the basic melody lines far beyond the origins. As a result, there is a lot happening here, which often seems a bit over the board. These young musicians are bursting with talent and probably feel the need to prove themselves on the extremely crowded Polish Jazz scene, which might by the reason why the result seems so dense and ready to explode. The quintet is at their best playing slow, lyrical material, which is only a small part of the music herein.

The album was recorded at the excellent Studio Tokarnia and engineered by Jan Smoczynski, which usually is a guarantee of sound quality, but this time the sound is a bit muffled / unusual, emphasizing the piano over the other instruments. But of course this is just a very personal inkling.

Overall, this is an impressive album, considering the age and lack of experience of the musicians, which is just a first step in their career. They simply need time to get their stuff together in time. It obviously indicates the potential and talent of the young Polish Jazz scene, which has so much to offer.

Adam Baruch

"Horntet" album review / London Jazz News (source)

Horntet are a quintet of young Polish musicians led by pianist Bartłomiej Leśniak. Despite only forming in 2019 while they were students at the Academies of Music in Krakow and Katowice, the group already have an impressive list of achievements to their name; these include prizes at the Blue Note Poznan Competition and at the Jazz nad Odra Festival. Their self-titled debut album, released in October on For-Tune Records, features seven tracks, six of which are originals.  

The record opens with the striking opening chords of ‘Falling Up’, an exciting tune which ventures through an eclectic range of feels. The band flows through an open-ended free-up before lapsing into dark modal swing, eventually settling on a driving, repetitive rhythm. Altoist Szymon Ziółkowski and double bassist Mikołaj Sikora share an interesting paired improvisation during this third section, the latter’s bowed melodies complementing the saxophonist’s keening sound. 

‘Przebudzenia’, which translates as ‘Awakenings’, starts with a pensive solo intro from Leśniak, calling to mind Bill Evans. The melody- performed in unison by Ziółkowski and tenor saxophonist Robert Wypasek– is one of haunting beauty, occasionally punctuated by brush flourishes from drummer Piotr Przewoźniak. It is also Przewoźniak’s thunderous drums which drive the chaotic closing minutes of this tune, featuring soaring, intertwined melodies from both saxophonists. 

The aptly named ‘Ace of Bass’ sees bassist Mikołaj Sikora come into his own, his deep, woody tones setting up a brooding minor swing. This one has a more straight-ahead sensibility, the rhythm section digging in under Leśniak’s swaggering phrases. Ziółkowski and Wypasek take more of a back seat here, playing the melody only- the spotlight is firmly on piano, bass and drums, who craft a beguiling groove together. 

Thelonious Monk’s ‘Pannonica’ is the only non-original tune on the album and gets a modernistic treatment from Horntet. A mysterious extended sax duo kicks things off before being interrupted by a spiky rhythmic pattern- this forms the basis for an intricate interpretation of Monk’s melody. Wypasek then proceeds to take the group into outer space with a virtuosic solo.  

Horntet are a jazz quintet who are not afraid to explore contrasting musical ideas. This debut shows they are well on their way to crafting an individual sound which combines elements of the hard bop tradition with both anarchic free jazz and contemporary grooves. 

Sam Norris

"Horntet" album review / Era Jazzu (source)

On Horntet, a group of young, eloquent musicians caught my attention during the Blue Note Poznań Competition. The quintet, comprised of highly expressive musicians who are graduates of the Music Academies in Krakow and Katowice (formed in 2019 at the initiative of pianist Bartłomiej Leśniak), distanced themselves from the participants of the Poznań competition by winning the Grand Prix in 2022. They describe themselves as "messengers of swing and strong jazz sound," drawing abundant inspiration from masters such as Thelonious Monk and Horace Silver. The characteristic sound of Horntet combines influences from classic jazz of the 1960s with innovative performance, creativity, and unique energy. Their debut album, titled "Horntet," was recorded by the quintet featuring Bartłomiej Leśniak on piano, Robert Wypasek on tenor and soprano saxophones, Szymon Ziółkowski on alto and soprano saxophones, Mikołaj Sikora on double bass, and Piotr Przewoźniak on drums. The excellent sound quality and mastering are credited to Jan Smoczyński. The album consists of seven tracks, including four original compositions by Bartłomiej Leśniak, and one each by Szymon Ziółkowski and Piotr Przewozniak. It also includes Thelonious Monk's standard "Pannonica" in the original arrangement by the ensemble. Despite being their debut recording, the quintet is already well-known to the jazz audience, having performed in prestigious jazz clubs and at various festivals. They have achieved significant success in major Polish jazz competitions, including the Tarnów International Jazz Contest, the Review of Jazz and Blues Bands in Gdynia, the Grand Prix Blue Note Poznań Competition, Orlen Jazz Festival Bielska Zadymka Jazzowa, Jazz nad Odrą, and Krokus Jazz Festival. Among the numerous domestic jazz projects, Horntet stands out for its tremendous consistency in maintaining jazz tradition and a broad, modern jazz perception.

Dionizy Piątkowski

Concert at 68. Krakowskie Zaduszki Jazzowe Festival (source)

Krakow's All Saints' Jazz Festival is one of the oldest events of its kind in the world. This year, the sixty-eighth edition began on Wednesday, October 25th with a concert at the Małopolski Garden of Arts on Rajskie Street. The first performer to grace the audience gathered there was the Horntet quintet.

The band was founded in 2019 by pianist Bartek Leśniak, the first recipient of a festival scholarship named "Hope of Polish Jazz." A new tradition of the Krakow All Saints' Jazz Festival is to open each edition with the previous year's laureate. Therefore, it can be assumed that the next, 69th edition in Krakow will likely be opened with a recital by Artur Małecki, a young drummer who was awarded a scholarship this year. But let's return to this year's festival and the Horntet ensemble...

In addition to pianist Bartek Leśniak, the group consists of saxophonists Robert Wypasek and Szymon Ziółkowski, double bassist Mikołaj Sikora, and drummer Piotr Przewoźniak. All of them are graduates of music conservatories in Krakow and Katowice, and despite their young age, they are already highly acclaimed collectors of awards at festivals for young jazz musicians. The inspirations that all the young musicians admit to, as announced by Bartek Leśniak before their compositions, are Horace Silver and Thelonious Monk.

In short, it was an explosive concert and a fantastic opening for this type of festival. The instrumental proficiency of the musicians, excellent sound, outstanding compositions, and a sense of humor make for a great concert. Additionally, the concert hall at the Garden of Arts allows for excellent visual execution and illustration of what comes through the speakers with animations and interesting light effects. The gentlemen also continued their success by going on tour straight from Krakow, giving concerts in Trzebnica, Jelenia Góra, and Wrocław. According to reports from friends, those concerts were just as good, even though they lacked the stage technology that was employed in Krakow.

The members of the Horntet quintet used the Krakow concert to premiere their debut album, which, of course, could be purchased in the corridors, providing an opportunity to obtain autographs.

If Horntet performs in your area, don't miss the chance. Great, spirited music spiced with a thousand improvisations, and the departing giants of Polish jazz have their next excellent successors. Below, we present a photo report from their concert in Krakow.

Sobiesław Pawlikowski

"Horntet" album review (source: Presto #40 LATO 2023)

(...) Their debut is strong and decisive. In this music, youthful antics and verve are intertwined with flashes of sonic maturity. At times when it turns out that each of the performers has a lot to say (and what important and beautiful polyphonic discussions these are!), it gets stuffy. In response, there come long-awaited moments of releasing tension towards dancing swing or melodic drifting. The compositions were planned as a space in which there is enough space to present the individual skills and unquestionable sensitivity of such very expressive musicians, while at the same time directing the listener's attention to the fact that the absence of any of the performers in this set would be immediately felt. The Horntet's work is well-thought-out and coherent, but it cannot be accused of being predictable. And can there be anything more interesting than a debut with the promise of an original creative awakening?

Greta Wolny

Concert at Bielska Zadymka Jazzowa 24.06.2023 (source: Jazz Press 09/2023)

The notes I hastily wrote down while listening to their concert should suffice as a summary of this part of the evening: 'Absolutely absorbing, electrifying and devouring; they should be looked at.” Not a bad summary for the obscenely talented youngsters who had just played in support of Esperanza Spalding.

Marta Ignatowicz

Concert at Barwy Muzyki Improwizowanej Festival in Opoczno 22.04.2023 (source: Jazz Forum 06/2023)

The second day of the festival started off with a bang. The Horntet band performed, an amazing band playing music that I would not hesitate to call brazenly brilliant. Its power of sound, momentum and youthful abandon went hand in hand with the perfect technique, coordination and technical proficiency of the performers. Seeing the young guys entering the stage, I sat down comfortably, waiting for the next portion of nice melodies, and suddenly a shock - the first song literally knocked me out of my chair, and then it was even more dangerous. (…) I immediately noticed the excellently written songs, which involved "breaking symmetry" at all levels - from the structure of the composition itself, to harmony (scales, tonal freedom), tempo (stop times) and texture (polyphonic sections). ). At the top of the "pyramid" what took place was what resulted from the assumptions and creativity of the musicians - solos, dialogues, simultaneous improvisations.

Bogdan Chmura

Concert at Jazz Jantar Festival 26.06.2021 (source)

After a short break, a completely unknown Krakow band called Horntet took the stage at Żak, who recently won the 23rd National Review of Young Jazz and Blues Bands at Sax Club in Gdynia. After a few minutes, the audience at Żak had a clinical symptom, namely, their jaws dropping in amazement. Horntet, consisting of pianist Bartłomiej Leśniak, tenor and soprano saxophonist Robert Wypasek, alto saxophonist Szymon Ziółkowski, double bassist Mikołaj Sikora, and drummer Piotr Przewoźniak, are students of music academies in Krakow and Katowice, who formed the band at the end of 2019. Apparently, they are among the artists who were inspired by the pandemic time of closure and distance, because what they prepared for the Gdynia competition and played at Jazz Jantar is impressive in every way: composition, arrangement, and execution. They are a band that record labels should be fighting over. As I mentioned before, they draw from the same era as Kuba Hajdun, namely the 1950s and 1960s, but not the mainstream tradition, but rather the legacy of the most creative jazz musicians of that time. They themselves refer to Thelonius Monk and Horace Silver, and I would add Charlie Mingus. These are geniuses, innovators, without whom today's jazz would be completely different. They complicated, broke up, energized in terms of expression, and developed improvisational jazz music. Five guys from southern Poland fully found themselves in this world of sound, and to say they played without complexes is an understatement. They are skilled craftsmen, full of passion, fierce, sensitive, just as the band Miłość could have played three decades ago if they had known how to do it then. The second song in the lineup was Thelonius Monk's "Pannonica," the only composition not written by a member of the band. The main composer in Horntet is Bartłomiej Leśniak, who also serves as the undisputed leader and was the emcee of this concert. His compositions were also contributed by Piotr Przewoźniak and Robert Wypasek. The fact that they can create in such a difficult idiom, feel it fully, and can engage with the audience so compellingly has made the audience at Żak immediately buy into them, and this debut at Jazz Jantar can be called sensational and triumphant. The last comparable revelation of a national band at this festival was the debut of the Pokusa trio in the first half of the previous decade. Horntet is not afraid of expression, not afraid of emotions, and infects listeners with these emotions. Each member of the five-person collective is convincing in individual improvisation, and no one falls behind in skill level, which is extremely rare for such young musicians. The saxophonists are great, but when they fell silent, Leśniak, Sikora, and Przewoźniak did an excellent job as a piano trio. I urge you emphatically: someone should release their album as soon as possible! Then the first place in the rankings of jazz debuts in Poland for the current year will be basically predetermined.

Tomasz Rozwadowski

Horntet (a combination of "horn," a term used by jazz saxophone legends to refer to their instrument, and "quintet") from Krakow metaphorically threw the audience from a seated position to a kneeling one with just a few notes. They began so passionately, with such enthusiasm and youthful vigor, that it was simply impossible to resist them. It was also impossible to resist the immediate thought that this was truly an extraordinary, phenomenal ensemble whose sole intention was the joy of playing together, and playing at a truly high, really high level despite their relatively short time on stage. The members of the quintet are students at the music academies in Krakow and Katowice, so their age is around twenty with a small plus. They already have their first laurel - they are laureates of the XXIII National Review of Young Jazz and Blues Bands Sax Club. And it is immediately evident that being together on stage (and previously shaping individual compositions) gives them incredible joy. They are both vigilant and free, losing themselves in incredibly emotional (and exciting) solos and quickly organizing themselves when the moment of collectivity comes. Their musical fascinations range from Thelonious Monk (whose composition they played their own version of yesterday), Eric Dolphy, Kenny Kirkland to Esbjörn Svensson Trio. Generally, they are not so far from the models of Jakub Hajdun's trio, although they boldly reach towards the tradition of modernity. The entire band is stunning. Pianist Bartłomiej Leśniak (wearing a colorful cap with a visor, which makes him somewhat resemble Elton John in his stage image - they actually have a similar build), both saxophonists: Robert Wypasek (tenor and soprano) and Szymon Ziółkowski (alto), double bassist Mikołaj Sikora and drummer Piotr Przewoźniak complement each other in an almost ideal way. It's as if they were born to play in this particular lineup. Both saxophonists on the front line sometimes play the same imaginative parts, and sometimes intertwine with each other in perfect quarter seconds, and their solo performances are simply masterful. Leśniak on the keys, always attentively looking at his colleagues, adds delicate and deeply heart-felt notes to the music. Sikora, as befits a double bassist, stands at the back, seemingly unremarkable, but when you focus on him for a moment, you see that he plays wonderful, meaty and delicate things. And a tremendously offensive Przewoźniak, playing with his whole being, reminding me of the excellent Manu Katché in a concert performance with Peter Gabriel. The whole thing is, as they say, extremely elemental, powerful, but also capable of lowering the tone, introducing a calming theme, and moving you to tears. Admiration is not enough, especially when you add what is probably the most important thing - their own compositions. Both Leśniak and Przewoźniak create mosaic-like, excellent, and non-uniform pieces. They can start a new number with a very swinging theme, and you think it will be like that until the end, only to unexpectedly end it, leaving only the pianist on stage (metaphorically speaking), who suddenly turns towards melancholy, and then builds up tension towards the next fireworks. And that's exactly how the whole musical narrative of Horntet unfolds, with a colorful, multi-faceted style that is as diverse as the band members themselves. If this is where they're starting from, it's scary to think what will happen next. I'll be eagerly waiting for everything that comes from the hearts, fingers, and lungs of these five gentlemen.

Czesław Romanowski