"Like Rosenwinkel, Sarnecki ventures far beyond the bebop and post-bop idioms of the past and into a freer - though still chordal - musical language. Sarnecki's original compositions merge the high-flown lyricism of Polish culture with an idiosyncratic, thoroughly disarming way of building long and winding musical phrases. He's clearly at the start of forming an improvisational syntax for himself, but it already shows originality and daring . . ." - Howard Reich, The Chicago Tribune
Cat's Dream is the third album from guitarist/composer Rafal Sarnecki, born and raised in Warsaw, Poland, and now based in Brooklyn, NY. The album was recorded in Brooklyn by Michael Perez-Cisneros (known for recording such albums as Kurt Rosenwinkel's Heartcore and Gilad Hekselman's This Just In). The mix was done by Dave Darlington at Bass Hit Recording (Darlington is known for mixing such famous albums as If On a Winter Night... by Sting, Alegria by Wayne Shorter, for which Darlington received a Grammy Award, and Gershwin's World by Herbie Hancock).
Cat's Dream features eight new compositions from Sarnecki, arranged for a sextet comprised of some of the best and brightest young musicians on the NYC Scene, Lucas Pino (tenor sax, bass clarinet, flute), Glenn Zaleski (piano), Rick Rosato (bass), Colin Stranahan (drums) and Bogna Kicinska (voice). Cat's Dream also marks Sarnecki's first album recorded with American musicians, and the first time he composed for voice. Sarnecki elaborated; "I wrote the music specifically for these musicians, and during the composition process I imagined every musician in the group performing the music and tried to hear how the parts would sound. We have all known each other for many years so I was able to feature their unique abilities and strengths within this music. I definitely felt very privileged to be able to record with such incredible musicians."
Each composition on Cat's Dream represents a different period in Sarnecki's life, and also a different stage of his development as a composer. On the album you can find extended forms ("For Anastazja" or "Plane Crashes and Conspiracy Theories"), typical short form jazz songs ("Ordovician Extinction", "Piazza Verdi"), as well as the first song with lyrics the composer has ever written (the title track, albeit in Spanish, "Sueño de Gatos"). Sarnecki's music is a result of being influenced by both traditional Polish songs, and American music he was exposed to on radio and in American films. Sarnecki explains further, "many American musicians consider my compositions very European in style, while in Poland and in the rest of Europe, my music is often described as very American. I like my music to have an American rhythmic character, and feel that introducing European melodic elements doesn't necessarily have to make the music groove less."
Sarnecki's music is fascinating in that many musicians perceive his compositions as being complex and challenging to perform (perhaps due to Sarnecki having a degree in Physics). However, the composer actually strives to make his music as user-friendly as possible, only using odd-meters if he is absolutely certain that it is necessary, for example. "Nevertheless the music on Cat's Dream is challenging to perform even for myself. I am really amazed by the ability of my bandmates to improvise with incredible freedom and expression over the complex metric structures of these songs," said Sarnecki.