Sunday, November 15, 2015

Michal Urbaniak - 1975 [2012] "Fusion III"

Michal Urbaniak is a jazz-fusion violinist from the 1970s who style is similar to Jean-Luc Ponty. Issuing many fine albums over decades, many of them feature his wife Ursula Dudziak. Fusion III was originally issued in 1975 on Columbia Records. In addition to Dudziak, this album features John Abercrombie, Anthony Jackson, Steve Gadd & Larry Coryell.

With song structures similar to Mahavishnu Orchestra and electric-era Return to Forever, Michal Urbaniak's Fusion III appealed to the same fusion-buying clientele. What most distinguishes this music from that of its contemporaries was the unique vocalizing of Urbaniak's wife, Ursula Dudziak. She could sound at times like a Polish Flora Purim, at other times like a synthesized presence from another world. On this recording, Urbaniak's playing is fresh and engaging, and his compositions occasionally sound like Frank Zappa's instrumental work from this same era. John Abercrombie and Larry Coryell turn in blistering guitar passages, and bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Steve Gadd provide a funkified rhythmic foundation. 

Very engaging and funky fusion disc from 1975, featuring not only Urbaniak's soaring gypsy drenched violin but also the other-worldly vocalese of his then-wife Ursula Dudziak (quite an original vocal artist in her own right).

The songs combine a lot of playfully twisty be-bop like melody lines with rip-snorting funk, chiming electric pianos and fiery rock sensibilities, particularly the searing guitars of John Abercrombie (check out the spine-chilling solo on "Metroliner") and Larry Coryell (who seriously rocks out on "Bloody Kishka"). plus a killer rhythm section of bassist Anthony Jackson with drummers Steve Gadd and Gerry Brown.

My favorite tracks include the bluesy and yet thoroughly unpredictable "Roksanna" that builds from a loping 3/4 time swing to a fiery romp with those bop lines by Michal and Urszula weaving in and out of each other like mad! As mentioned earlier, "Metroliner" with it's grand sweeping chord progressions and John Abercrombie's thick searing legato solo. "Prehistoric Bird" soars like its namesake, and then gets downright funky, with bassist Anthony Jackson laying down a relentless and creative groove the whole way through as Steve Gadd plays like he had only 5 minutes to live. Other highlights include the alternately mournful and playful "Kuyaviak Goes Funky" the mysterious "Cameo" and the crazed funk of "Chinatown" Pts 1 AND 2, part one sees Abercrombie dueling with Michal, and on Pt 2, it's Larry Coryell's turn.

If you like your fusion with lots of funk and soem East European gypsy flavor thrown in, you can;t go wrong with Michal Urbnaniak's Fusion III. 

It's been a long time since I heard this album on the turntable. After buying this classic on cd recently, it brought me back to the time in the 1970's when Jazz Fusion was heard on the radio and when I went to the local record stores and was able to purchase this great genra of music readily. This is a long lost classic, however, I'm so glad that it's available online. If you truly enjoy virtuoso violin and electric guitar as well as great electric bass and drums, along with some cool oddities thrown in for good measure and amusement, then this is the cd for you. Excellent!!

Tracks Listing

1. Chinatown [part 1] (5:24)
2. Kujaviak Goes Funky (6:12)
3. Roksana (5:42)
4. Crazy Kid (2:35)
5. Prehistoric Bird (5:19)
6. Bloody Kishka (4:21)
7. Cameo (4:41)
8. Stretch (6:20)
9. Metroliner (4:44)
10. Chinatown [Part II] (3:56)

Line-up / Musicians

-Michal Urbaniak/ electric violin, violin synthesizer
-Urszula Dudziak/ voice, percussion, electronic percussion
-Wlodek Gulgowski/ electric piano, Moog, and electric organ
-Anthony Jackson/ bass guitar
-Gerald Brown/ drums
-Steve Gadd/ drums
-Larry Coryell/ guitar
-John Abercrombie/ guitar
-Joe Caro/ guitar
-Bernard Kafka/ voice


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  2. All quality material. Many thanks.

  3. Could you do a re-up please? Just found this vinyl and I would love to have a digital copy as well.