I must confess to my predilection for well-executed reinterpretations of jazz standards. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has had the pleasure of listening to “The Real Deal” that this album would float right to the top of my classical jazz favorites. An ad hoc trio project headed by Angel Award winning and leading Czech pianist Najponk, “The Real Deal” expands upon the best of jazz traditions with fresh improvisation and a composition each by Najponk and the French avant-garde composer Erik Satie.
Fitting well with the “standard” repertoire is Najponk’s style, which can be described as a combination of Oscar Peterson and Thelonious Monk. His virtuosity and enthusiasm make him an exciting performer to listen to, and with two phenomenal musicians - bassist Jaromír Honzák and drummer Matt Fishwick - in company, the chemistry is pure magic. It goes to show when Najponk’s own composition quickly becomes as memorable as classics such as “Solitude” (Duke Ellington) and “I’ll Remember April” (Don Raye) that these boys can play. Listen to Najponk’s “Based on Bach, Bird & Trane” in the sidebar to see what I mean.
Currently, “The Real Deal” holds a nomination spot in the “Jazz and Blues” category of the Angel Awards 2012, alongside two more albums produced by the label Animal Music. In summation: you don’t want to miss this recording. As far as the classical jazz genre goes, it really is “The Real Deal”.
The pianist Najponk, whose most recent trio album It’s About Time, recorded in an unorthodox line-up with the organist Ondrej Pivec and the percussionist Greg Hutchinson, received a prestigious Czech Andel Award in 2010 in the Jazz and Blues category, has initiated another ad hoc trio project. He invited along for the ride the distinguished Czech bassist Jaromir Honzak, the holder of three Andel Awards for Jazz Album of the Year, and the young English percussionist Matt Fishwick. The extremely bracing album features Najponk’s arrangements of a more or less “standard” repertoire, as well as a Najponk composition and selected works by the celebrated French avant-garde composer Erik Satie.
1. Love Letters (Victor Young)
2. I´ll Remember April (Don Raye)
3. Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (Sigmund Romberg)
4. Too Young (Sidney Lippman)
5. Listen Here (Eddie Harris)
6. Sonora (Hampton Hawes)
7. Just A Closer Walk With Thee (traditional)
8. Smile (Charlie Chaplin)
9. Wahoo (Bennie Harris)
10. Solitude (Duke Ellington)
11. Based On Bach, Bird And Trane (Najponk)
12. Je te veux (Erik Satie)
Najponk (Jan Knop) has played the piano since age of nine, and his obsession with jazz dates from around that time. Among jazz musicians and fans Najponk is known as an informed collector of jazz records – and indeed as one of the most knowledgeable people in Prague on the subject, where he taught history of jazz at Jaroslav Jezek’s Conservatoire.
Matt Fishwick is one of the first call drummers in London. He was born in Manchester, United Kingdom along with his identical twin brother, Trumpet player Steve Fishwick, in 1976. In 1994 Matt left Manchester to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Here he met many like minded musicians that have since made an impact on the London Jazz scene and internationally.
Bandleader, bassist and composer Jaromír Honzák graduated from the Conservatory of Teplice in 1982, and completed additional studies at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He has performed with virtually all of the major figures of the Czech jazz scene and with many international artists such as Bill Hardman, Phil Wilson, Art Farmer, Victor Lewis, Amina Claudine Myers and Jorge Rossy.
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3rd track from CD The Real Deal: "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise"
5th track from the CD The Real Deal: "Listen Here"