Michal Urbaniak: Chinatown (Part 1)
Chinatown (Part 1)
Michal Urbaniak (violin, violin synthesizer)
Fusion III (Columbia PC33542)
Wlodek Gulgowski (keyboards), Anthony Jackson (bass), Steve Gadd (drums), Urszula Dudziak (voice, percussion).
Composed by Michal Urbaniak.
Recorded: New York, February 1975
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
In the 1970s, Polish violinist Michal Urbaniak made his bid to join Jerry Goodman and Jean-Luc Ponty in the forefront of jazz-rock fiddle players. He was a composer of merit, had a great sound and possessed incredible technique. What he did not seem to have was consistency. He could be counted on to produce one or two outstanding cuts per album. That may be a little unfair because perhaps we can look back at those compositions that didn't quite work as being outside the box of formulaic fusion. (Yes, even fusion had a formula.)
Urbaniak's talent and potential ensured he could get some of fusion's best musicians to play with him. Thus it was on "Chinatown (Part 1)." The introduction is a bit Jean-Luc Pontyish and Mahavishnu-like. But it was hard not to be in those days. Urbaniak and Abercrombie wail over a funky keyboard. Steve Gadd and Anthony Jackson play a complicated and pleasing unison run that vocalist Dudziak, Urbaniak's wife, joins. Her tone almost sounds like a violin itself. This harmonizing riff section becomes the most memorable part of a high-energy workout. This performance stands up to the output of any fusion band playing at the time.
Though Urbaniak never broke through in a big way, he still must be listed among the finest jazz violinists ever. His important contributions to fusion are part of the record. He continues to ply his trade quite successfully in Europe.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky