One of New Zealand’s most talented and forward-thinking contemporary jazz musicians, Michal Martyniuk, has delivered an excellent EP full of chilled-out grooves.
Originally from Poland and now applying his trade in Aotearoa, Martyniuk is a pianist who embraces a wide range of styles on ‘Reconciliation’, his fourth release, fusing together elements of deep house, easy listening, soft jazz and jazz fusion across the EP’s five tracks.
With guest spots from the likes of Nathan Haines on sax, Vanessa Freeman on vocals, and Kacper Smolinski on harmonica, Martyniuk takes on the roles of both bandleader and producer, bringing in this cast of extras when he needs particular parts filled. Haines does what Haines does with his familiar sax flourishes on the stellar opening track Reconciliation, while Freeman is an absolute star vocally on How Do We Make It?
The real surprise though is the appearance of jazz harmonica player Smolinski and rapper Raashan Ahmed, who together add an eclectic touch to proceedings, the former on Common Desire and Ahmed on Speak Your Words. Their presence gives this EP a kind of California jazz feel in the style of, say, modern jazz musicians such as Terrace Martin and Robert Glasper.
Traditional jazz buffs might turn their noses up at this moulding of chill out electronic-based music and jazz; however, who really cares when the music on here sounds so fresh and exciting? There will always be the debate between jazz heads and those who embrace more fusion styles of the genre, but one thing is for certain, musicians like Martyniuk are helping to move jazz forward and make it more accessible to people from outside the jazz world. This can only be a good thing long-term.