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EARTH (ZEMLYA)

Artist: Jan Kopinski

Date of Release: 01/06/2004

Catalogue no: SLAMCD 255

Label: SLAM

Price: £9.99

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Track Listing

No

 

Title

Duration

 

 

 

 

1. Tower (Jan Kopinski) 7.29
2. Colt (Jan Kopinski) 4.01
3. Tractor Go (Jan Kopinski) 8.42
4. Dream Road (Jan Kopinski) 4.31
5. Return And Turn (Jan Kopinski) 6.08
6. Field Line (Jan Kopinski) 3.23
7. Holy Man (Jan Kopinski) 3.03
8. Falling Bells (Jan Kopinski) 5.04
9. Glass Eyes (Jan Kopinski) 3.06
10. Song For A New Life (Jan Kopinski) 6.17
11. Land Sleep (Jan Kopinski) 4.04
12. Song For Oleksandr (Jan Kopinski, Steve Iliffe) 4.39
13. Black Earth (Jan Kopinski) 5.59

JAN KOPINSKI saxophones
STEVE ILIFFE grand piano
JANINA KOPINSKA viola
STEFAN KOPINSKI bass
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SLAM CD255
Slam Productions
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Aleksandr Dovzhenko’s classic silent film of life and death in a Ukrainian village amid the struggles of collectivisation is considered a poetic masterpiece of Soviet cinema. Its convenient ideology is overtaken by the epic landscapes and beautifully observed portrayals of family, community and human emotions.

Jan Kopinski’s new CD captures the music of his specially commissioned live soundtrack to this remarkable film, intensifying the imagery with an intriguing mix of sadness and hope At times, gently paced and lingering, the music is intense but always hopeful.
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Reviews

 

01/03/2005 Andy Robson

Jazzwise, March 2005-03-0 CD Review
Pinski Zoo goes to the movies….Earth is an extraordinary, visionary film created in 1930 about the Stalinist collectivisation of Ukrainian farms. It toes the party line while transcending it with a take on family life deeply rooted in the soil. So not a bundle of laughs, but rare and special, not unlike Kopinski’s soundtrack. As a fine artist himself, Kopinski has a sensitivity to visuals as reflected in other scores he’s performed for silent movies. And by using his own family in the band Kopinsky evokes the intimate, inexplicable binds/bonds of family life that are integral to Dovzhenko’s silent film. There are various paradoxes within Kopinski’s music; he evokes Slav folk music, melancholic and lost to an irrecoverable past, but Iliff’s broken chords also reflect the equally lost world of discordant modernism that this brave new era of revolutionary cinema was going to usher in. There are moments of lyricism but essentially there is a hushed chamber music feel throughout, with Kopinski close-miked and intense; even moments of release, like the joyous funeral, are underlined with a sense of tears that pervades the whole composition.
Andy Robson

 

01/09/2004 HiFi News

Hi-FiNews, September 2004
Music Choice - Jazz
For tenor saxophonists, the legacy of John Coltrane is an unwieldy albatross. Those that make the best of his legacy are players on other instruments, like guitarist Sonny Sharrock or singer Phil Minton. Those who pick up on the modal bliss-outs of late Trane (Pharoah Sanders, Zusaan Kali Fasteau) betray both their own individuality and the real meaning of his universalising musical language. Kopinski is different. With his band Pinski Zoo he developed an unlikely cross between harmolodic funk and Polish folk to mesh with his Traneish sax.
Here his quartet - son and daughter Stefan and Janina on electric bass and viola, the Zoo's Steve Iliffe on grand piano - lacks the pounding groove of yore, but manages to maintain the wonderful sense of slowly-unrolling time which is Kopinski's forte: appropriate indeed for accompanying old film stock.
Kopinski looks at life through the squint of eternity - music nostalgically recalled rather than actively pursued - but his funereal solemnity is leavened with black humour and sarcasm in true East European style (on the foldout, his profile is positioned so it resembles one of Dovzhenko's mighty bulls). The band has an internal rhythmic coherence and bovine dignity which is truly rare. BW
PERFORMANCE MEASURED, SOMBRE
RECORDING WARM, RESONANT

 

01/09/2004 Chris Parker

Jazz at Ronnie Scott’s, number 149
Although saxophonist Jan Kopinski is still perhaps best remembered as the leader of the seminal late-1980s loud-jazz band Pinski Zoo, he is featured here as a composer of film music (for Aleksandr Dovzhenko’s silent classic Zemla). The visual poetry and moving emotional content of the film’s potrayal of a Ukrainian community living through what was the Soviet collectivisation project, is perfectly conveyed by Kopinski’s multi-textured saxophone sound, which runs the emotional gamut from rhapsodic, almost Lloyd-like, warbling to gutsy passion. Steve Iliffe’s eloquent, lyrical piano, and occasional contributions from Janina Kopinski’s viola and Stefan Kopinski’s bass complement the leader’s brooding skirling beautifully, and the whole album, even without the film it illustrates, is a deeply moving and intensely personal statement from one of the UK’s most instantly identifiable saxophonists.
Chris Parker

 

01/08/2004 Jerome Wilson

EARTH is something completely different, a soundtrack written by saxophonist Jan Kopinski for the old silent Soviet film classic, Earth. I wasn’t able to find a copy of the film to check how the music matched the visuals but even without the film you can hear the narrative progression in this music (Tower/ Colt/ Tractor Go/ Dream Road/ Return And Turn/ Field Line/ Holy Man/ Falling Bells/ Glass Eyes/ Song For A New Life/ Land Sleep/ Song For Oleksandr/ Black Earth. 66:26.), going through phases of sadness, mourning, determination, and hope. The score is performed by a chamber group (Kopinski, ts, as, ss; Steve Iliffe, p; Janina Kopinska, vla; Stefan Kopinski, b. 9/9-10/02, 9/18/02,
Nottingham, England.) with Kopinski’s saxophone first emulating the spirituality of John Coltrane then moving on to the simple folk-based beauty of Albert Ayler. His soulful cries are underpinned by Steve Iliffe’s weighty piano and the viola and bass strengthen the body of the work. It would be interesting to see how this music enhances the film, but even without that it is impressive work.
Jerome Wilson, Cadence, August 2004

 

06/06/2004 Paul Donnelly

Music written for a silent film which depicts life and death in a village amid the struggles of Soviet collectivisation may not sound promising. Unrelenting bleakness and hardship may seem the order of the day, even if, like me, you haven’t even actually seen the film. So Jan Kopinski may have been facing an unenviable task composing his score for ‘Zemlya’ which was made in 1930 by Ukrainian director, Aleksandr Dovezhenko.

He has assembled pianist Steve Illiffe alongside the other two Kopinskis, Janina and Stefan, to paint a musical evocation that is, at times, quite dour whilst at others is strangely haunting. For instance, the opening piece, ‘Tower’ has a compelling grandeur created by Kopinski’s sax and the gently interwoven voice of the viola. Illiffe’s piano builds waves out of dark, ponderous chords and lighter trills and the combination of these textures makes for an evocative and dramatic piece of music.
There are traces of Jan Garbarek in parts of the playing, the chilly, melancholic tones of ‘Colt’ being one example. Kopinski’s keening, fluttering lines set against the cascades of grand piano recall the ECM ‘sound’ of the Norwegian’s earlier work. But the resemblance is of a passing nature rather than an all-pervading influence. On ‘Tractor Go’ there is more of a tendency towards an edgy approach, with both sax and piano sounding disturbed and unsettled. In this fairly restrained but tense composition Kopinski’s playing is freer and somewhat fractured, nagging at ideas and chafing against the stabbing undercurrents set up by Illiffe.
Even on a track like ‘Dream Road’ subtitled ‘Dream Of Love And Utopia’ the musical terrain is still quite bleak and comfortless with sax and viola combining to produce a haunted scenario which is, to my ears, far from suggestive of any Utopian dreams. And it is around this point that I began to feel an overwhelming sense of oppression. Each track takes on a similarity in mood and the piano’s ponderous tones become redolent of tired peasants dragging a recalcitrant plough across stubbornly resisting earth. This may have been the desired effect, of course, but the relentlessly gloomy tones make the music sound leaden in places.
It is relieved, to some extent, on ‘Falling Bells’ where the piano is, some of the time, slightly lighter and Kopinski’s pensive tone recalls Coltrane’s seriousness. Similarly ‘Glass Eyes’ lets a little light in and is an apt vehicle for the meditative tenor while ‘Song For A New Life’ sounds promising with the viola and sax complementing each other. However, I was constantly aware of that piano plodding away.
This music clearly suits the subject of the film, or as far as my imagination can conceive it, but after several listens I felt that the claustrophobic nature of their sound became overwhelming and I found myself longing for respite.
Paul Donnelly ejazznews 6/6/04

 

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