Sometime Soon by Bal – Reviewed by Chris Mann



Composer and trumpet player Piotr Bal was born in Stetten, Poland and has lived in Chicago since the mid 1990’s.  He has performed in Poland, Germany, Belgium, Israel, the Netherlands and the USA. 

In addition to being a musician/composer,  Bal also writes music for films. One piece in particular "Nothing, Nobody, Nowhere" won a Director's Choice Award in the Black Maria Film Festival.  

 His trumpet was featured on the Ricky Martin videos "Livin La Vida Loca" and "Shake Your Bon-Bon".  “Sometime Soon” is his sixth recording in his own name.

The opener Art of Melanie is rather mechanical with all instrumentation by Bal.  It’s formulaic smooth jazz. 

Kissing Your Lips (instrumental) is moody with a bluesy melody.  The trumpet is used sparingly against David Benoit’s lush piano and Vinnie Colaiuta’s subtle cymbal work. 

Kissing Your Lips (vocal) has a breathy whispered male vocal – I thought no-one did that since Donna Summer – but at least this is not just the instrumental with vocals overdubbed – it’s a different take on the song. 

On I Still Hope, that mellow, muted trumpet is to the fore.  It’s very melodic with more lush piano.  A very tight bass and drum partnership holds this lovely song together.  The piano solo on here is one of the nicest things I have heard Benoit play – and I’m a fan of his.  The standout track for me – cool but with enough drama to hold your attention. 

With subtle strings and crystal-clear piano, Sometime Soon (instrumental) opens like a film score.  The mutes trumpet sounds half-hearted on here, even a little off-key.  Things improve slightly with the mute removed but it’s Benoit’s piano which saves the song. 

The vocal version of Sometime Soon is again not simply an overdub.  The bass is lovely and warm and holds the track together.  I’m not sure if it was worth re-doing as a vocal.  It’s very sombre. 

The tempo picks up for the almost reggae groove of One Sunny Day.  The mixture of muted and unmuted trumpet is effective – one for the verse, one for the chorus – and Bal has skill and taste.  I just wish he’d play more like he meant it. 

Memory is a slow vocal track, much too ponderous and melancholy for me.  My original notes said “almost funereal” – I’ve not changed my mind. 

The strutting, offbeat Sometimes It Happens is sneakily quite funky but this could have been given a much harder edge, especially with the very competent bass player and drummer on this song.  The trumpet soloing is frantic and this track is by far the most adventurous on the CD.  The idiosyncratic keyboard solo is over the top but I couldn’t help smiling.  Nuts! 

No Kiss Goodbye is another slow, moody number played with the mute.  I might have lost interest had it not been for that rock-solid snare drum.  I found myself imagining this song as the accompaniment to a late-night “erotic drama”.  Not sure what that says really… 

I love the light-as-air piano which opens Polish Broadway and the whole song is performed with a deft touch.  It’s a complete song with a strong melody and the piano solo is uplifting.  Benoit earns his money on this CD – his playing is masterful.  The dynamics on this song will make me play it often.  Performed live, this must be a real crowd-pleaser. 

This is a very mixed CD – it has some very sombre moments and some where the sidemen lift it beyond what’s in the songs themselves.  This album was recorded in 1999 – I hope that Bal’s forthcoming project with Ray Manzarek (ex-Doors) will be more upbeat and commercial. 


L.A.B. Records 4123  – Producers Piotr Bal and Clark Germain