Komeda Project: Requiem (2009)
There's an awareness which is located deep within human nature that we're subject to both positive feelings as well as destructive impulses: Love and death, Eros and Thanatos, exist side by side. All great art is a mirror of the human condition and nobody understood better than the Polish composer and pianist Krzysztof Komeda that life as well as music is composed of light and darkness.
The dual nature of Komeda's music is captured perfectly in one of his masterpieces, the three-part suite, "Night-time, Daytime Requiem" which was written as a response to the news of the death of saxophonist John Coltrane. Komeda's own interpretation can be found on the release Night-time, Daytime Requiem (Power Bros, 2003), but while it captures him at the peak of his powers, it is also a recording that, in spite of excellent mastering, is marred by the fact that it was recorded on poor equipment back in 1967.
Thus, it must be considered a cause for celebration that Komeda Project, which has previously explored the oeuvre of Krzysztof Komeda on the fine release, Crazy Girl (WM Records, 2007), has chosen to record the suite along with other Komeda compositions and done so in a sparkling, warm sound filled with the nuances that the music so richly deserves.
"Night-time, Daytime Requiem" starts off with the chaotic wailing of trumpeter Russ Johnson and saxophonist Krzysztof Medyna before it settles into a meditative piano piece where Komeda's legacy from the romanticism of Chopin is shown. Throughout, the composition evolves like waves on a sea, sometimes in a tide, then suddenly in an outburst of a storm. It's a music that requires a lot from the participants, but especially the rhythm section of bassist Scott Colley and drummer Nasheet Waits show themselves capable of stretching the demanding form, and the passionate playing of saxophonist Krzysztof Medyna is perfectly matched by Andrzej Winnicki's brooding piano.
Winnicki is also the architect behind two compositions that aren't credited to Komeda, but fit excellently into the programme: "Elutka" and "Anubis." Both work with the multifaceted dark lyricism and dense tonality that is so characteristic of Komeda and it is a testament to Komeda Project's integrity that they so seamlessly integrate their own works into the music of the master, thereby giving him a worthy Requiem.
Track Listing: Night-time, Daytime Requiem (Part 1-3); Ballad for Bernt; Dirge for Europe; Astigmatic; Elutka; Prayer and Question; Litania; Anubis.
Personnel: Russ Johnson: trumpet & flugelhorn; Krzysztof Medyna: tenor and soprano saxophones; Andrzej Winnicki: piano; Scott Colley: bass; Nasheet Waits: drums.