Friday, November 16, 2007

Six-string-stars from my country

Time to become a patriot :). Like almost everyone, I began my fascination with guitar after listening to the greatest names in the business (it was Carlos Santana and Brian May where it all began, then some Satch and so on…), however, I quickly realized that I can find equally amazing players much closer, in my home country. Now I’m nothing but pleased to introduce the biggest guys of Polish guitar to you.

Marek Raduli began his musical journey as a drummer, then mastered the art of jazz guitar, made a career as a studio musician and member of some mainstream bands and recently has returned to his origins, playing vigorous jazz and fusion in various ensembles. During his pop-rock days he managed to play a gig in Carnegie Hall and release two solo albums with instrumental material, proving his extraordinary skills. Recently, his most notable project is a powerful fusion trio “πR2” – the “Polish Tribal Tech”, as thery’re certainly influenced by the famous group; however, the band members are enough accomplished musicians to develop their own style and sound. Raduli is the main composer in here, and his cool leads are one of the biggest attractions of πR2 gigs; on the other hand, I cannot skip the trio’s amazing bassist, Wojtek Pilichowski, who provides Mark-King-influenced insane slap solos along with groovy walking lines. The band has released one CD, entitled “Transporter”.

Although Marek is certainly a feel-oriented, melodic player, his chops are no less impressive than his soulful vibrato, bending and whammy work. During long, improvised solos he shows stunning ability to create moving and interesting phrases over complex chord progressions, as well as fantastic legato and arpeggio technique. Recently he’s celebrated 25 years of artistic work, and I think all the Polish players wish him at least twice more. Go on and learn more on ,

Jacek Królik is as incredibly versatile player who was unconsciously heard a thousand times by all Polish people, as he played with almost everyone as a “hired gun”, including pop stars, rock bands, orchestras on TV shows, various jazz ensembles and many more. Well, “gun” is a good term here, as Jacek can probably overtake Kalashnikov machine with his marvelous picking technique. Local guitar fans love him for the passion to throw flashy solos sometimes even in smooth pop songs; anyway, he always fits the piece he’s playing to perfectly, providing diverse range of tones and colors. One of his coolest acts was a folk-rock band “Brathanki” which won considerable popularity. Jacek does a unique job there, creating very original, licks mixing folk melodies with great technical ability - someone named it perfectly as “folk-shred”. However, nothing’s shocking when we talk about the man who’s done studio jobs probably in every possible genre, and sounded always brilliant, regardless of style. unfortunately, a page available only in Polish, but you can find some great Królik videos on YouTube, e.g on this channel.

He has also collaborated many times with a bit older, but no less amazing player – Ryszard Sygitowicz, who also deserves a few words here, but let his YouTube channel speak for himself - probably I won't describe this great axeman better than he did here.

Marek Napiórkowski is also a regular guest on Polish TV, spicing up shows and festivals with warm, passionate guitar tone, however, he’s mainly a great jazz player. He’s got everything a great improviser should have in his bag of tricks: fast picking and legato lines, odd-time phrasing, crazy chordal stuff, awesome control of dynamics and impressive scale knowledge. Add to this emotive rock drive and decent use of CryBaby and you’ll get a player without weak points. This year (2007) Marek’s second solo album hit the market and was as enthusiastically acclaimed as the previous one. He’s also cooperating with his father-in-law, superb saxophonist Henryk Miśkiewicz (by the way, his daughter and the guitarist’s wife, Dorota, is a brilliant singer) in various jazz bands. Sadly, you can read his website only in Polish, too, however, just type his name in YouTube browser and relish listening to one of the finest jazz/fusion players out there!

The last one I ‘d like to mention here, Jacek Polak, is not as popular as the previous ones and has probably never appeared on the TV or the radio. What a pity!

I accidentally attended a concert he played with his brother on drums as “Mr. Pollack” duo, and what I saw simply made my jaw hit the floor and stay there for some time. A rather short, inconspicuous man, equipped with only one shining Ibanez axe, gave a stunning show-off, playing hi-tech neo-classical stuff and screaming blues licks with enough ease and passion. I’ve heard perfect renditions of Van Halen, Pink Floyd, Gary Moore and Santana classics, as well as thrilling versions of Bach’s "Badinerie" and the famous "Flight Of The Bumblebee". Only a perfect coverman? Never ever! The brothers’ own songs were among the gig’s highlights – nice, melodic, with really impressive soloing.

“Mr. Pollack” has released several albums with their own material and some with cover songs, a notable one is the “Air On 6 Strings” with compositions by Mozart, Bach and many more – probably the best neo-classical shred playing ever done by a Polishman. Some years ago, Jacek has also recorded an instructional DVD, showing his favorite licks and techniques.

And one more thing… can you imagine improvising to Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing” using a pick and Ibanez JEM, and throwing sweeping arpeggios here and there, without losing the Knopfler feel, only making it flashier? Yes, he did it, too. Top man!

If have any comments or questions, please send me a message - I'll read it for sure! And if you like that stuff, I'll try to provide you with more information about those and many other guitar wizards from Poland.

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