Eastern Europe, and Poland in particular are crazy about jazz. Joanna Morea, a Polish singer and instrumentalist, is publicly recognizable in a way that just wouldn’t happen in America. Not a pop star by any means but she is visible on TV and can be heard hosting a jazz radio program. She made an album for pregnant women, a coloring book for children, and has meanwhile joined numerous jazz musicians on stage including visiting Americans recognizable to our readers. She has recorded with the Mark Shepherd Swing Quartet and led her own Swinging Boys.
Her new album, Crazy People, consists of new music and lyrics she has composed as well as a few creative choices from the ’30s canon, including the title track and the humorously risque treasure “Was I Drunk?” It was first released in Polish with the five vintage tunes sung in English. Her Polish originals have now been translated and an English version of the album is on offer. Two of twelve tracks remain in Polish and I for one don’t mind a bit. Listening to a foreign artist sing in English always involves a period of acclimation to the accent, the Polish tracks fall naturally on the ears. In an interesting essay on her website, she discusses a translation process that involved new songs for the same tunes.
The album consists of upbeat small group swing or mainstream jazz. Her well-timed vocals are interspersed with her enjoyable solos on saxophone and flute. The flute adds a high flying Artie Shaw feel. The band varies from four to seven members assembled for the studio session all of whom are veterans of the Polish jazz scene. The jam on “Tropical Paradise” is particularly good but my album favorite was the Latin-inspired “Jazzowe Nutki”—which translates as “Jazz Notes.”
Joanna Morea: Crazy People – English version (2017)