Komeda Project: Crazy Girl (2006)
The legacy of the great Polish jazz composer/pianist Krzysztof Komeda runs especially deep, while straddling the worlds of film music and modern jazz. While his life was sadly cut short in 1969 at the age of 38, his compositional output included more than sixty film scores and the influential European classic Astigmatic (Power Bros, 1966), with trumpeter Tomasz Stanko. Despite Hollywood credentials that boast the hit soundtrack for Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby, the Komeda Project's Crazy Girl reveals that Komeda was a visionary jazzer in both mind and soul.
Saxophonist Krzysztof Medyna and pianist Andrzej Winnicki established the Komeda Project by conscripting trumpeter Russ Johnson, bassist Michael Bates and drummer David Anthony to form a very versatile and potent quintet. Their performance is anything but a slavish recreation of Komeda's music but speaks more to the composer's sensuality of expression and grasp of emotionality. Beginning with three examples of Komeda's melodic film music, the quintet is not long into the first and title cut before it shows its well-developed abilities to blow bop.
Medyna and Johnson play exceedingly well together and they pleasantly blend for a sweet singular voice when remaining true to the thematic material, while also blowing up a storm when they expand the music's structure. Several Winnicki originals are in this same vein but a bit more loosely composed and fit well with the older material, allowing the band to stretch its legs and show that along with Komeda, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Keith Jarrett are also influences. A major aspect of Komeda's genius was his touchingly delicate phrasing and Winnicki does an admirable job of highlighting this on reinterpretations of "Svantetic" from Astigmatic and CD closer "Sleep Safe and Warm" from Rosemary's Baby. The former has piano dexterously comping while sax and tenor take turns soloing while the latter's piano/horn duet is the disc's most beautiful, albeit shortest moment. A testimony that stands alone as an enjoyable session, recasts Komeda's works in an interesting fashion and serves as an intriguing entré for those unfamiliar with the godfather of modern Polish jazz.
Track Listing: Crazy Girl; Kattorna; Ballada; Is That Your Final Answer?; Svantetic Prelude; Svantetic; Tail Peace; Stop Time; Sleep Safe and Warm.
Personnel: Russ Johnson: trumpet and flugelhorn; Krzysztof Medyna: tenor and soprano saxophones; Andrzej Winnicki: piano; Michael Bates: bass; David Anthony: drums.