The story of legendary Polish prog band SBB is rooted in 1971 when classically trained Jozef Skrzek meets two musicians named Anthimos Apostolis (guitarist of Greek origin) and drummer Jerzy Piotrowski. They begin rehearsing as a trio named SBB (Silesian Blues Band). Later this year, they are invited by Polish musical icon Czeslaw Niemen. The three albums they recorded together are still considered as important, bright, innovative and brilliant albums in the Polish rock history. In 1972 Niemen and his musicians are playing at the Rock And Jazz Now concert in Munich featuring also Charles Mingus and Mahavishnu Orchestra. Skrzek is delighted when he witnesses Mahavishnu live. That music, combining musical virtuosity and improvisational skills, thrills him and his two companions. But in 1973 Skrzek and Niemen decides to take different roads. Jozef, Anthimos and Jerzy returns to the name SBB, which now means "Search, Break & Build". In April 1974 the band gives two sold-out concerts in Warsaw, these shows are recorded and released as a LP simply entitled Live, it gets an overwhelming reception. The next album New Horizon is a solid jazz-rock album with great Moog synthesizer parts. On their third one entitled Memory the band drifts towards progressive rock with long suites (including an absolute 20-minute masterpiece) and excellent guitar and synthesizer solos. The fourth album is named With A Word I Run To You. In 1977 the band records the album Follow My Dream in West-Germany, it gets an overwhelming reception, and even turns into a commercial success. In 1978 SBB performs in Dortmund as a main star, with Colosseum II and Soft Machine and also gives a gig in Roskilde for an audience of 300,000! After this gig the British newspapers name SBB "the best rock trio after The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream". They also record another excellent album in West Germany, "Welcome". SBB tours massively, releases Memento With An Ordinary Triptych but conflicts rise within the band, and in1980 SBB call it a day. However, they will reunite en reform many times. SBB is considered as one of the forerunners of progressive rock and jazz-rock and attracted many influential jazz musicians, who often performed with the band. The group regularly toured Czechoslovakia, East and West Germany, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium, and gradually gained a kind of cult status within the world of prog rock.
Nowy Horyzont (1975)
What an incredible musical experience to listen to this legendary Polish formation, so varied and adventurous! The structure of the compositions is like a jam session, lots of improvisations and soli. The one moment it is jazzrock like Mahavishnu Orchestra or Colosseum II featuring duels and soli on the Minimoog synthesizer and electric guitar, fuelled by an outstanding, very dynamic and powerful rhythm-section. Or a psychedelic atmosphere with harder-edged space guitar and pitchbend driven Minimoog flights. The other moment SBB sounds adventurous and experimental, the hypnotizing beat reminds me of psychedelic Pink Floyd, the more avant-garde oriented parts evoke early King Crimson. Remarkable are a lot of final parts that contain tender or sparkling Grand piano, wonderful.
Although this music is not always my cup of tea I am impressed by the skills and the open musical minds on this reissue.
Ze Słowem Biegnę Do Ciebie (1977)
The original album contains two 'side-long' tracks, totally different in atmosphere. First the varied and dynamic Ze Słowem Biegnę Do Ciebie. It starts with experimental sounds, then a hypnotizing beat, followed by a long and fiery guitar solo and powerful drums. Halfway the music turns into a slow rhythm with tasteful guitar work. And finally a tight beat with a Jan Hammer-like Minimoog solo, accompanied by the swinging sound of the clavinet. The other album track is Przed Premierą, now lots of swinging rhythms, close to funky, with a powerful rhythm-section, the atmosphere is jazzrock inspired with strong work on guitar and keyboards (Minimoog, electric piano and clavinet).
The first bonus track is the very long composition Odejście, close to half an hour! To my surprise this one turns out to be my highlight. It starts with the distinctive sound of Indian instruments, the sitar (known from Ravi Shankar) and the tabla percussion, I love the sultry climate, hypnotizing and compelling. Then the music shifts frequently. From dynamic with powerful guitar to mellow with soaring strings and soft vocals. From a swinging rhythm with fiery guitar work to experimental with spacey sounds. And finally a mid-tempo with flashy Minimoog and rock guitar. I don't understand why this captivating epic composition was never released, I like it more than the two other tracks together! The second and final bonustrack is Zima, only 8 minutes. It starts with spacey Minimoog flights, then a hypnotizing beat with pitchbend driven Minimoog runs, and a harder-edged guitar solo. The final part contains soaring strings, slowly fading away.
SBB is a jazzrock oriented band but with a very adventurous and experimental approach, if you are up to this kind of music this reissue is one to discover.
Nowy Horyzont **** Erik Neuteboom
Ze Słowem Biegnę Do Ciebie *** Erik Neuteboom
(edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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