Soon by Bal
– Reviewed by Chris Mann
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.
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.
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.
opener Art of Melanie is rather
mechanical with all instrumentation by Bal.
It’s formulaic smooth jazz.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
is a slow vocal track, much too ponderous and melancholy for me.
My original notes said “almost funereal” – I’ve not
changed my mind.
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!
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…
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.
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
Records 4123 – Producers
Piotr Bal and Clark Germain