SBB - concert in Budapest support: After Crying

Friday 3 June 2005, 10:00 pm

A38, Budapest

SBB is acclaimed as the best Polish rock band of the past 45 years. "The three musicians that revolutionized Polish rock", "Beyond doubt the most prominent representatives of progressive rock in Poland": it is only a mere sample of the way the band has been referred to. A complete list of references and opinions would be far too long to quote. Yet apart from the groups formidable and praiseworthy history one must not forget that SBB is in the first place an active band, far from being dormant, regularly giving live performances and shunning to choose a soft option as far as music is concerned. Invariably Seeking, Breaking and Building...

Silesian Blues Band emerged in 1971 in the Polish town of Siemianowice Slaskie as a trio led by Józef Skrzek, a young and promising bass player and pianist who by then had already had almost a year's experience with a blues band called Breakout. The initial line-up saw, apart from the group's leader, two individuals: Apostolis "Lakis" Anthimos (g), a 17-year-old Polish-born son of Greek immigrants, and Jerzy Piotrowski (dr). The dense schedule of rehearsals, regular gigs in the Silesia region and earliest radio sessions have all resulted in the band's winning substantial acclaim beyond their native region. By the end of 1971 Silesian Blues Band commenced their cooperation with Czesław Niemen: a group called Niemen was subsequently formed and was to last for more than eighteen months. They toured Europe (a famous appearance at the Rock and Jazz Now Festival, Munich) and Poland as well, releasing a total of four studio albums. The summer of 1973 saw the group's breakup as Czesław Niemen formed a new band Niemen Aerolit. In the meantime, Silesian Blues Band was transfigured into SBB - the famous abbreviation was soon to be deciphered as "Seek, Break, Build", an idea ascribed to Franciszek Walicki, the group's early patron.

The band's first official release, which was a live album, was recorded on the 18th and 19th of April 1974, barely two months after the musicians' public debut as [SBB]. The first pressing - a true record in the history of Polish music industry - was immediately sold out (the asking price on the black market doubled twice). The album contained vivid and reckless music recalling Jimmy Hendrix and Cream, abounding with hectic guitar solos and distorted bass lines (one of the group's trademarks of that time!), as well as quite a few lyrical piano pieces.

The following months brought an overwhelming number of performances throughout Poland and other early east block countries; the band appeared regularly in East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Along with numerous gigs a considerable number of radio sessions followed; recordings were initially made in the Polish Radio 3 studios in Warsaw, then in Opole. Out of these sessions SBB's second album, [NEW HORIZON], was compiled. Shortly after that two successive releases saw the daylight, namely [MEMORY] and [WITH A WORD IN HAND I RUN TO YOU]. Every new album was stylistically more and more distant from the unrestrained free-rock featured on the first record; instead, the band experimented with carefully-studied synthesizer-based musical pieces, quite expanded in their form, and indulged them in the lavish multi-track technique. Simultaneously, the group worked with other musicians during collaborative projects and concerts (Tomasz Stanko and Tomasz Szukalski - leading Polish jazzmen, Halina Frackowiak - a popular pop-rock singer, to mention only a few).

In 1977 SBB eventually found a representative in the Western market (German company Aries from Gottingen). This resulted in launching a tour in West Germany, Denmark, Finland and other countries from behind the "steel curtain". In November 1977 the group recorded their first album that was intended to hit the Western market [FOLLOW MY DREAM]. The following year saw the release of [WELCOME] and the band touring constantly (a memorable appearance at the Roskilde Festival, Denmark). Fearing to neglect the Eastern public, the group went on to record further albums in East Germany and Czechoslovakia.

Weariness came in 1979. Strenuous toil of the past years finally marked its presence. The arrival of a new member, Slawomir Piwowar (g, formerly Paradox and Niemen Aerolit) helped to eliminate the deadly pressure. His emergence turned out to be truly refreshing after the band has returned triumphantly from the local seaside tour. In 1980 the enhanced line-up recorded a fabulous album called [MEMENTO WITH A BANAL TRYPTYCH]. Though it turned out to be the last album of that era, it was no doubt the most mature of all the band's releases and clearly showed the way that SBB has gone so far. The group's autumn tour in West Germany was their very last...

An opportunity for the band's comeback came in July 1991 with the event called "Three Decades of Rock" organized in Sopot by Franciszek Walicki. However, this one-time mediocre gig did not trigger any further actions. The next time SBB were asked to perform live was in 1993 during a charity concert in Katowice. A decision was made to once again enlarge the personnel; subsequently, SBB turned into a quintet with Janusz Hryniewicz (voc, acc g) and Andrzej Rusek (gb) appearing as guests. The new line-up went on tour in 1993 and 1994 to eventually set off for a series of concerts in Polish-American clubs in the US. The tour ended up with a new MC release [LIVE IN AMERICA '94] and a final collapse of the band merged with Piotrowski's decision to stay in America.

1998 saw the bands yet another comeback, this time with Miroslaw Muzykant, a young drummer who had formerly appeared in Jozef Skrzek's various solo projects. The new line-up recorded three live albums that featured remakes of old material and one new track [QUITE CALM TIREDNESS]. Before too long the presence of Muzykant became debatable, especially after a number of musical disputes between Apostolis and him. Muzykant eventually quit after his final appearance with SBB at Waltrop in December 1999, thus leaving the band drummer less before their planned gig in Herzogenaurach, Germany (May 2000). An idea for his replacement came from Marek Komar, SBB's friend and fan, director of Pat Metheny's European Fan-club. This is how Paul Wertico (formerly Pat Metheny Group) joined SBB for the German gig and ultimately stayed. Thus the group entered the new millennium with a brand new intercontinental line-up.

The spring tour of 2001 (Germany, Czech Republic, Poland) was truly commemorated Wertico's membership. During a short break between concerts the band recorded a few new tracks that later appeared on the EP [THE GOLDEN HARP] - Propast Studio, near Prague. More gigs followed and the new personnel have become stable enough to enter the studio and venture upon recording new material. This is how we saw the release of [MOODS] - the first studio album since 1980.

The following two years were filled with regular though rare meetings and gigs; promotional actions were undertaken in order to promote [MOODS] as well as a number of archive materials (CDs: SOPOT '78, KARLSTAD '75, GOTTINGEN '77 and JAZZ JAMBOREE '79 - DVD).

In May 2004 SBB once again hit the stage in Poland with a series of five enthusiastically-received gigs. The band's onstage energy promises a lot. The musicians wisely penetrate their past and pick up what is best in it in order to merge it with a bunch of new ideas and constantly seek, break and build... More gigs will soon follow. A new album is also underway, working title: [NEW CENTURY].