'Reviving the spirit of African folk music, showing the indigenous inspirations, immersing in the primal percussive groove' – that's how the aims of the improvising jazz orchestra were described by its leader and founder, the trumpeter and composer Piotr Damasiewicz.
Power of the Horns, a band formed in 2007, relates to the most famous and influential avant-garde jazz big bands, such as Sun Ra Arkestra and Art Ensemble of Chicago. The aim of the band, more than working out a particular sound or performing specific compositions, seems to be looking for new possibilities, playing and working together. Another aim, as Damasiewicz put it in the interview for 'Gazeta Wyborcza', is 'releasing energy in collective improvisation'.
During concerts of Power of the Horns there is over a dozen musicians on stage, playing two drum sets, two double basses, saxophones, trumpets, a trombone, a piano and percussion instruments. Although the line-up of the group changes constantly and is unpredictable, since keeping together such a big band consisting of musicians living in different cities is a difficult task, what is constant is the leader and the rule that organises the work of the group. As was in the case of the Chicago AACM bands, what determines how an orchestra sounds is the total of the sounds of all musicians, who also often work on their own, such as Dominik Wania, Maciej Obara, Marek Pospieszalski or Piotr Damasiewicz himself. He recorded two albums as a leader of a quartet with Gerard Lebik (saxophone), Wojciech Romanowski (drums) and Maciej Garbowski (double bass).
Until now only one album of the group has been recorded. It was a live album Alaman released in 2013 by For Tune. Three compositions that appeared on it are long and often last over a dozen or several dozen minutes. The improvisations are filled with rich, varied solos of the musicians, who were chosen by Damasiewicz to the free-jazz combo. Their individual voices blend in one sound that is difficult to define clearly. It is presented both on Alaman and on the recording from the concert at the Warsaw Summer Jazz Days Festival in the Soho Factory in 2013. Damasiewicz and his ensemble played all the compositions from the album then.
In 2017, during the Jazz Jamboree Festival, Power of the Horns performed in Warsaw in Stodola Club with a guest appearance by the saxophonist James Carter. 'Through those years since the album Alaman was released, a lot in my life has changed. I travel a lot, I started educational projects, and as a performer I focused on smaller groups or even solo recordings. I was glad when I got the proposal of reactivating Power of the Horns', Damasiewicz said before the concert. 'Carter started many years ago among the Chicago avant-garde musicians who had the same aim that we have now', he pointed out and announced that, as planned, the performance at Jazz Jamboree would be recorded.
The musicians who played on Alaman are: Piotr Damasiewicz (conductor, trumpet, voice), Maciej Obara (alto saxophone), Adam Pindur (soprano saxophone), Marek Pospieszalski (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, flute), Paweł Niewiadomski (trombone), Dominik Wania (piano), Jakub Mielcarek (double bass), Max Mucha (double bass), Gabriel Ferrandini (drums), Wojciech Romanowski (drums), Tomas Sanchez (percussion).
Originally written by Piotr Jagielski, translated by MW, February 2018