Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Funk Amidst the Food Riots

February 3rd, 2010 · 4 Comments


The mid-1970s were a gloomy time in Polish history, even by that long-accursed nation’s standards. Government-mandated price increases on essential goods led to a series of violent protests, which were quelled in typically brutal fashion. To paraphrase a certain Shogun Assassin quote made famous on GZA’s Liquid Swords, it was a bad time for Warsaw.

But it was also a wonderful time to be a Polish funk musician, thanks to the benevolence of the state-owned Polskie Nagrania Muza record label. As we’re previously noted, Poland has long been a surprising hotbed of soul-inflected jazz, perhaps due to the nation’s larger-than-normal diaspora during the Cold War. And to the joy of music aficionados the world over, the Gierek regime seemed far more interested in oppressing the proletariat than micromanaging the Polskie Nagrania Muza catalogue. So plenty of “decadent” Western-style gems slipped through the system, including Arp Life’s semi-legendary Jumbo Jet LP. The best cut is above; a longer, pre-release version can be experienced here.

Completists should also set aside an hour or so to learn about the entire history of Polish jazz, a tale that begins on the swinging Warsaw scene some 80-plus years ago. If you’re pressed for time, though, this quickie synopsis should give you more than enough to prove your bona fides.

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