Released: 1.09.2014

Wacław Zimpel i jego zespół bez wysiłku przywołują klimaty kameralnego gamelanu jawajskiego, Lou Harrisona, Reicha z Rileyem, brzmienia Indii i Bliskiego Wschodu czy świętego minimalizmu Arvo Pärta i Johna Coltrane”a. Ich muzyka przechodzi od najbujniejszej gęstwy dźwięku poprzez niemal elektroniczne zakresy aż do całkowitej, nagiej ascezy; narracja prowadzona jest cierpliwie, organicznie, delikatne wzory wiją się stopniowo ku niespodziewanym zaułkom, pulsuje głęboki groove. Co ważniejsze, muzycy odnajdują ukryte ogniwa łączące te jakże odmienne style i wyplatają z nich rzecz spójną, bogatą, pełną ekspresji, piękna i mocy. To oszałamiający i zniewalający reportaż z podróży przez światową muzykę końca XX i początku XXI wieku.
(Evan Ziporyn)

  • Wacław Zimpel – klarnety
  • Paweł Postaremczak – saksofon sopranowy i tenorowy
  • Dominik Strycharski – flety proste
  • Maciej Cierliński – lira korbowa
  • Jacek Kita – pianino
  • Wojciech Traczyk – kontrabas
  • Mike Majkowski – kontrabas
  • Paweł Szpura – perkusja
  • Hubert Zemler – perkusja, cymbałki


This is the debut album by Polish Jazz clarinetist / composer / bandleader Waclaw Zimpel and his nonet called To Tu Orchestra (the name is probably a wink in the direction of the legendary Warsaw club Pardon, To Tu), which includes saxophonist Pawel Postaremczak, flautist Dominik Strycharski, hurdy-gurdy player Maciej Cierlinski, pianist Jacek Kita, bassists Wojciech Traczyk and Mike Majkowski and drummers Pawel Szpura and Hubert Zemler. The album includes six original compositions, arranged into three mini suites, of one, three and two parts respectively.

The music is in many respects a continuation of Zimpel´s earlier work with the group Hera, which combines elements of avant-garde, Jazz and contemporary Classical music with World Music from all over the world. The strongest influence on this album is minimal music pioneered decades earlier by Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley and others, which Zimpel embraces, most evidently in the first of the three mini suites but in fact throughout the entire album. The repeated structures returning cyclically, typical in minimal music, which are normally produced by electronic or acoustic orchestral patterns, are created here by World Music patterns, like Balinese gamelan music, slowly changing and intensifying until they reach a massive sound, but do not reach an expected crescendo. Minimalism continues to be present in the rest of the compositions, simply changing the geographic colorization, using Japanese, Middle Eastern and other folkloristic influences.

Zimpel is undoubtedly a master of atmosphere and building tension, which accompany his earlier work as well, but come to a fruition and perfection on this album. The large ensemble allows him to „paint” much denser multilayered vistas, which move freely in the World Music universe. The music does not actually get into Jazzy improvisation until the very last piece on the album, so listeners anticipating that facet of Zimpel´s music are in for a disappointment.

What emerges here is a new type of minimal music which amalgamates the earlier forms of minimalism with World Music, creating a World Minimal Music. Zimpel evidently had a great fun creating this music and it is also very listenable, but the fundamental question as to what Zimpel wanted to achieve remains open, at least in my case. I have not been overwhelmed neither by the aesthetics nor by the musical result, which after all simply states nihil novi sub sole. But it is very well done for sure! ~ Adam Baruch

A small orchestra actually appears as a logical next step for Wacław Zimpel. For me he is one of the outstanding artists in Poland as I have already written in my review on „Stone Fog”. And although that last one was a pleasure to listen to, it still did not completely convince me – but that’s totally different here. I would describe „Nature Moves” as his masterpiece so far! Surely some fans of his projects like Hera or Undivided will not agree as here many traditional elements of (Free) Jazz are missing – or not so obvious. Instead, the whole album is more of a consistent composition whose title seems to fit quite perfectly. Therefore traditional jazz fans should be careful: It takes a lot of openness to approach this piece of work. In many parts it is more a reminiscence to minimalists such as Steve Reich or Terry Riley than to the american jazz tradition. But it seems as if those borders are at the moment extended very much, especially in contemporary Polish jazz. As an example the recently released album by Trzy Tony („Efekt Księżyca”, Requiem Records) might be cited. Personally, I like these transgressions very much.
As a listener you can expect long repetitive passages, just as known from minimalism. Impressive is the incredibly harmonious sound of the To To Orchestra though. Most of the musicians already know each other from previous projects, but nonetheless this harmony is an evidence of the huge dedication to the work. The backbone of the orchestra are the musicians of Hera (Paweł Postaremczak, Maciej Cierliński, Paweł Szpura and of course Wacław Zimpel). Wojtek Traczyk is known from his solo work but also through his bass playing in „The Light” – another project with Wacław Zimpel. Added to this is Jacek Kita, the pianist of one my favorite bands: Levity; and Dominik Strycharski, who just recently convinced with his play on Pulsarus. Hubert Zemler played in a variety of projects in the last years in which some of the here assembled musicians were involved too. Solely Mike Majkowski I only know from one collaboration with Mikołaj Trzaska … But what’s indeed amazing is that on these recordings Wacław Zimpel actually managed to combine those nine musicians into a uniform orchestral body to create a wonderful work of incredible harmony. That’s also the reason why it’s so difficult to tell something about the individual musicians – everyone seems to blend seamlessly into the collective.
For the impatient jazz fans I recommend track 3 („Dry Landscape”), and the closing „Where The Prairie Meets The Mountains.” Both pieces offer more traditional jazz elements than the other tracks on this album, while still not falling out of the line. For all other listeners I would absolutely recommend to listen to this album quietly in its entirety. The quietness is especially important. If you listen to this record on the side it might appear monotonous. The subtle nuances during the development of the individual pieces will become apparent only with due attention. But if you pay the attention it deserves to this album, you will be rewarded with a truly special listening experience.

There is one last thing I would like to say: I have deliberately avoided a comparison with „Alaman” as the approach is a completely different one here. I still mention it though, to point out that this is yet another outstanding example of a great intercourse with the „Big Band” that has become slightly dusty in recent decades. It’s in particular the differences between these two wonderful recordings that show what is possible with this ensemble! And even though I’m aware that it requires not only outstanding musicians and orchestra leaders, but that it’s also a huge logistical challenge, I sincerely hope that more will dare follow this path! ~ Dirk Blasejezak

Polish clarinetist and composer Wacław Zimpel is known as the leader of ensembles such as Hera, Undivided, and his namesake quartet, as well as for his membership in groups like Mikołaj Trzaska’s Ircha Clarinet Quartet and Ken Vandermark’s Resonance Ensemble. His latest venture is the To Tu Orchestra, a uniquely-rostered nine piece band that makes its debut with Nature Moves. In addition to Zimpel’s clarinets, the Warsaw-based ensemble features a variety of saxophones and recorders, hurdy-gurdy, piano, two bassists, and two percussionists.

The foundation of Nature Moves is a loose grouping of “repetitive” musics—everything from Javanese gamelan to Terry Riley to ritual world music serves as an influence. Opening piece “Cycles” begins in a delicate Eastern mode. The song progresses in a fashion similar to Riley’s In C, where canonical rhythmic patterns gradually shift, with new patterns constantly emerging as elements are added and subtracted. This slow arithmetic becomes increasingly intricate and hypnotic—“Cycles” feels about half of its 28 minute length. In the last ten minutes, the piece really opens up, with the improvised counterpoint of the horns beginning to overwhelm the grounding, repetitive patterns.

The other pieces are of a similar mindset, though not all are in such rhythmic lock-step. “Nature Moves: River” advances in slow throbs until reaching a sudden crescendo of jagged piano chords and wailing horns. It’s the least authentic moment of the album—the intensity feels uninvited and misplaced—but it’s short lived, coming to an abrupt halt and opening up space for an incredibly emotional and intense recorder solo by Dominik Strycharski. Later movements find the band spinning through a harmonic prism, projecting new hues by alternating tempos and beat-emphasis around big, chiming piano chords.

While repetition and rhythm may be the rule on Nature Moves, the album’s real strength is its utter
mastery of timbre. Nine musicians is nothing to sneeze at, but at their best they sound even larger, and are often blended into a tonal wash that defies categorization. The warm drone that underlies the opening of “North: Where the Prairie Meets the Mountains” is a mixture of no less than four instruments, though the exact contribution of any particular one is maddeningly hard to tease out.  Likewise, the final moments of “Nature Moves: Under Surface” have a shimmering quality that sounds like the most sophisticated electronic ambient music. Making your way through the album, what reads like a quirky, eclectic mix of instruments on paper begins to coalesce as genius: like the great Henry Threadgill, Zimpel’s grasp of unique timbral combinations results in profound, peerless music.

The coda of the final piece conjures the intensely spiritual jazz John Coltrane made just before his death, along with the Eastern and world music influences his wife and acolytes would bring into their own music. As the song reaches its zenith, it’s heartening to hear the same influences that fueled the creativity of Coltrane’s circle 50 years earlier reenergized and renewed through Zimpel’s efforts. It’s a breathtaking closing to a unique album. To be sure, it’s a bit of a shock when it all ends in silence: it feels like such a cathartic, concert-going moment that you fully expect a burst of applause—or, at the very least, the sharp exhalation of a tightly-held breath.

One of my favorites this year. ~ Dan Sorrells