Many many years ago, I sauntered into a favorite record shop about 30 miles form my doorstep. The clerk, knowing my exotic tastes and progrock tendencies, walked up and handed me an LP by a French group, Aquarelle, saying "This is different". Indeed it was. That disc has remained in my collection to this day. Its jazz inflections blended with Euro folk and other refrains—not to mention a quite healthy dollop of prog-spiritedness—has kept the 1978 disc fresh through the decades. Later, I discovered Cano, Samla Mammas Manna, Flairck, and a small cadre of excellent off-center neoclassically oriented Romantic groups. Danar is most definitely of that estimable ilk, a veritable pressure front of daunting talent.
This is a Polish group harboring a leagues-deep love of traditional Irish songs, but what they do with that eldritch music will make Van Morrison, the Chieftains, and a spate of Celtic musicians quite quite happy—not because of a fidelity to trad airs, not at all, but rather because of the wondrous inflections they drive deep into the style, peppering the mode with Balkan and other flavors. Ewelina Grygier is an extraordinary flautist well beyond such jazz fusion luminaries as Jeremy Steig, Chris Hinze, Dave Valentine, and others. Much more a Rampal, Ian Anderson, James Newton stylist of jaw-dropping suppleness, she makes the flute once more vital in progressive musics, an event long overdue. Two other female group members are equally astonishing: Malgorzata Myzek and her omnipresent 'small percussions' and Patrycja Napierala, also a percussionist of equal adroitness, handling more small, as well as the larger, whatnots.
Tomasz Biela plies an ever-shifting guitar, changing from acoustic to lightly wah-ed jazz into latinated breeziness, and Adam Stodolski plunks a contrabass that's far more rhythm section than the percussionists, who actually occupy a mid-ground. Then Walter Till guests on a perkily crystalline piano and opens the sound stage up even further. When not playing winds or a mandolin, Grygier takes up singing in a sweet, clear, seductive, lassie-next-door highlands voice, perhaps holding the most traditional duty of all. Not a cut of Danar is less than luxurious, filled with rays of light and cool zephyrs. This is an enchanting release of serious but way cool music, and it can only be hoped that Poland has many more such ensembles to offer a world hungry for such elevated acumen and refreshing élan. My favorite cut? Song of the Udu, a scatty Basia-esque confection of heart titillating powers.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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