Niemen - Mourner's Rhapsody (1974)

This is the 4th and last album recorded by Polish singer / keyboardist / composer / lyricist / poet Czeslaw Niemen as part of his 4 albums deal with CBS. Following the recording and release of the first three albums in Germany, CBS decided to pass the torch to the parent company in US, Columbia Records, and this album was recorded in New York. Produced by one of Columbia’s resident producers Sol Rabinowitz, who had a lot of experience with Jazz-Rock, and surrounded by some of the best US players at the time, the album had all the potential to become a monster hit, but alas things turned out differently. The music world was obviously not ready to accept a non-English speaking artist to the hall of fame, regardless of how good he really was. The players on the album include (among others) Jan Hammer (drums), Rick Laird (bass), Steve Khan (guitar), John Abercrombie (guitar), Don Grolnick (keyboards) and another great Polish musician, violinist Michal Urbaniak. Niemen wrote all the music for this album, some of it new and some taken from his Polish releases. The sound quality and production are the best he ever had up to that point and the album is perfect in every respect, except perhaps for the producer’s effort to “Americanize” the final result in order to make it more accessible. This affected the slick sound the album (similar to many other Columbia albums at the time), but overall the album is an absolute knockout.

Niemen’s complex, but beautiful melodies and his unique vocal delivery are completely unrivalled. The album’s title track (taken from the Polish album “Enigmatic”) gets here an absolutely stunning new arrangement, using a choir to deepen the already profoundly dramatic atmosphere of the suite. In short, this is a monster album, sadly overlooked at the time by Western music community, but a momentous achievement for one of the most unique Artists on this planet. One can not even imagine what one is missing not ever listening to this album. Essential listening! (by Jazziz)

John Abercrombie (guitar)
Gail Cantor (vocals)
Erin Dickins (vocals)
Don Grolnick (piano)
Jan Hammer (drums (!))
Dave Johnson /percussion)
Steve Khan (guitar)
Rick Laird (bass)
Czesław Niemen (vocals, keyboards)
Seldon Powell (flute)
Carl Rabinowitz (guitar)
Howard Roberts (choir director)
Tasha Thomas (vocals)
Michał Urbaniak (violin)

Alternate frontcover

011. Lilacs And Champagne (Niemen) 4:05
02. I've Got No One Who Needs Me (Niemen) 4:14
03. I Search For Love (Niemen) 4:51
04. Baby M (Niemen) 5:17
05. Inside I'm Dying (Niemen) 5:34
06. Mourner's Rhapsody (Niemen) 15:00

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