Maestro Trytony are a Polish band led by Tomasz Gwicinski (guitar) and Tomasz Pawlicki (flute, keyboards). The musicians grew up on mainstream rock music, but were subsequently exposed to the world of 20th century’s classic and jazz. Indeed, the guitarist was considered one of the purveyors of the very local, neo-jazz phenomenon labeled as “yass” in the 1990s.
Initially, the band appeared stylistically hesitant and some clumsiness accompanied their forays into over-generous orchestrations. The initial ideas were highly engaging, but their eventual development suffered in longer compositions. Fortunately, in their most recent incarnation they seem to have developed timbral sagacity, generating an undogmatic yet coherent idiom. Where else could you find seeping interplay of baroque spinet, celestial flute and sharply edged jazz guitar? On this hitherto unclaimed territory Maestro Trytony offer a refreshing dose of stylistic fence-sitting.
Pristine sound of conjectural spinet sets off, berthed by drum brushwork and cohesive bass figure. The pre-classic keyboard drops lazy, dilatory notes like anonymous pearls. Highly adaptive flute legato ushers us into splendid palaces whose gilded stucco should still remember Jean-Philippe Rameau’s premières. Malgorzata Skotnicka’s spinet harmonics is endowed with quartz-like gloss and spangle-like utility. Her part is too indeterminate to be classified as magisterial basso continuo.
Van Worden in Sierra Morena
An exercise in sequentially rewritten time signatures, the piece begins with a tone setting guitar and cinematic answer from emblematic flute and fuzz guitar. A rapid progression of sub-thematic sections follows. First comes a taut, jazzy run for acoustic bass, wire brush and a constantly busy flute. This leads into a cul-de-sac, from which Abercrombie-style acoustic guitar fills spaces with ambiguous contours. As if separated by a large, impervious screen, flute and electric guitar ascend, pairwise. Thereupon, the two leaders adopt complementary roles. Tomasz Gwicinski will entangle his chords in David Torn’s categorical manner. Tomasz Pawlicki will crown the cadence.
The snail-like trail is first blazed by the acoustic guitar serving here as a cue for the fully rounded flute in the main melodic role. Rafal Gorzycki’s drums splash briefly, failing to deliver on the promise. The flute advances by leaps and starts, like a shy wallflower, only to recoil in its own introspection. There are more harmonic opportunities for a portamento liberation. The flute will digress, but stay trapped in its own image. Finally, the stately spinet shows up, fuelled by a competent jazzy section of drums and bass (Patryk Weclawek). Following a fourthfold phrase from the flute, the drummer taps into his repertory of multiplicative flailing. Electric guitar bursts into spacious, but disciplined solo, audibly raising the tension. In sharp contrast with the spinet’s graceful candelabra, Gwicinski’s topological exploration leaves behind ashy radio static. It is as if the venerable keyboard instrument strayed into a damp gutter echoing with calls for help from a quashing guitar. The pendular effect is further stressed by crashing cymbals.
This piece flows like a flute hustle in search of speed control. Pawlicki’s flutterings and tonguings excel particularly in high register. But it’s only a matter of time before the galloping, jazzy bass/drum section bootstraps the electric guitar. Against superb bass knotwork, the parabolic guitar hacks, arpeggiates and alternates between vibratos and pull-offs. The impressive fluency that Gwicinski exhibits here is akin to Nels Cline’s approach. Then the flute theme returns, menacingly piercing, yet fully flexible.
Heart of Gold
The title track is a slow-evolving affair for flute and acoustic bass. Mellow, descending line is oddly stuck in the Technicolor era of ethically dichotomous thrillers. The phrasing, the tempos and the production make this a docile, relaxing moment. The overprotective guitar’s noodling perilously approaches Metheny’s early style.
Prepared piano punctures an unusually tuned acoustic guitar, resurrecting the ghosts of Davey Williams’s groundbreaking inventions a quarter of century before. Still, Maestro Trytony remain more potent rhythmically. The dispersal of isolationist chords from the mistreated guitar and the injured piano appears more stochastic than combinatorial.
Magic Tiara Part I
Magic Tiara Part II (Cherub. Wand.)
The two tracks are strung together and, at combined 14 minutes, dominate the record. After an accessible flute intro, spinet tremolos lead us directly into a pseudo-Jamaican electric bass ostinato, bundled by a very modern-sounding percussion. The beach guitar and melodious, but static flute are poles apart from the rather gymnastic, aerial rhythm. A less diffuse, planar jazz guitar eventually soars, falling shy of replicating Rypadalian Nordic vistas. A robotic countdown non-sequitur. Outside, a discrete gamelan revels in sequined figure (Martin Franken). Up front, the acoustic guitar stammers and stutters. The flute is still there, but in a fairly neutral, refractive role. Short violin scraps are almost inaudible (Lukasz Gorewicz). By now, “Magic Tiara” could be totally free form, were it not for the bass that has kept the band in line all along. Mechanical, unemotional female voice recites a text in English and the signals slowly dissipate.
Dotted rhythms, short rolls, cascades, crosses and chokes vibrate from Jacek Majewski’s tenseless percussion. His crystalline effects formulate a comfortable context for an ascending guitar crescendo. The ensuing guitar improvisation unfolds with panache – voluble pitch control and heterodox speed control intersect in perfect timing as Gorzycki unleashes a veritable tornado on his drums. The initial crescendo recurs, this time distracted by inroads into prepared piano’s intestines. There is a welcome selectivity in the chosen variables. While some strings are locked in by felt and strings, other keys remain tonal. The equiprobable distribution of outcomes – some regular some jangly – is gradually decoded against the fast moving rhythm section.
More acoustic explorations for prepared piano, with a smoothing flute and a tentative guitar stuck in a groove.
MAESTRO TRYTONY: “Enoptronia” (1996)
MAESTRO TRYTONY: “Heart of Gold” (2004)
European avant-garde jazz legend Andrzej Przybielski guests on the first CD. The second CD is, however, superior.
Gwicinski had previously appeared in a formation Trytony, but I have not heard any of their recordings.