Michal Martyniuk, Nothing to Prove

by Ferell Aubre

Polish born pianist and keyboardist Michal Martyniuk is no stranger to the Auckland music scene.  Based in New Zealand since 2007, he holds a degree in Jazz Performance from Auckland University. Michal’s career journey has also afforded him the opportunity to perform with notable New Zealand musicians including: vocalist Tama Waipara and Lewis McCallum as well as playing with bands Sola Rosa, Batucada Sound Machine and holding the keyboard chair in the Nathan Haines Band since 2014, playing piano, fender Rhodes and a range of synthesizers.

Martyniuk’s debut release Nothing to Prove features a group of musicians that articulate his ideas with divine mastery, Kuba Gudz on drums, Bartek Chojnacki on bass, Jakub Skowronski on saxophone, Kuba Mizeracki on guitar, Miguel Funetes on conga, bongos, percussion, vocalist Tama Waipara and of course Martyniuk on the piano. The material features original compositions written by Martyniuk that draw on characteristics of contemporary American and European jazz traditions.

The title track has a beautiful straight eight pulse with interesting harmonic movement. Chojnacki’s big warm bass sound keeps things anchored as Gudz’s cymbal work gives the track motion and rhythmic color. The melody is flowing, and the orchestration of piano and Mizeracki’s guitar gives the melodic line character and fullness. Martyniuk’s solo builds through the changes, methodically increasing the intensity and activity. The rhythm section follows Martyniuk’s lead and together they create beautiful solo statements that are a wonderful representation of the beauty created when combining European and American jazz traditions.

“Simple Thought” starts with a pedal tone from Chojnacki, while Gudz and Martyniuk layer in, followed by saxophonist Jakub Skowronski. The ensemble has a relaxed intensity as they unfold the compositional form, Martyniuk’s compositional style is clear and full of subtleties. Skowronski’s solo is a wonderful conversation between Martyniuk and Gudz. Martyniuk’s melodic sense of the piano is very lyrical. He is patient and builds motifs to logical completion, which allows the listener to savory the journey.

Martyniuk’s debut will not hit the streets until August of 2018 but it’s well worth the savoring of anticipation.  Each track is its own unique story, with the many facets of Martyniuk’s adroit playing and comradery of musicians, one can hear the chemistry from the first notes. Can’t wait for the album, you can sooth your hunger, the single “Simple Thought,” will be the first single on the album. Stay tuned, the wait will be worth it, but at least the beast can eat with a single coming soon.

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