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Komeda Project: Requiem

Eyal Hareuveni By

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Komeda Project's Requiem is released 40 years after the untimely death of the great Polish composer and pianist Krzysztof Komeda, best known for his original soundtracks to Roman Polanski's films Knife in the Water and Rosemary's Baby, as well as his work with great Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko. The European-American Komeda ensemble—pianist/arranger Andrzej Winnicki, trumpeter Russ Johnson, saxophonist Krzysztof Medyna, and the new rhythm section of bassist Scott Colley and drummer Nasheet Waits—succeeds in updating Komada's compositions by reaching into their essence. It makes for a sophisticated and rich European aesthetic that references American jazz, but doesn't bind itself to any genre, sounding modern and timeless.

The opening, three-part suite "Night-time, Daytime Requiem"—also covered on Stanko's Komeda tribute, Litania (ECM, 1997)—reflects Komeda's compositions from the sixties, an era of relative hopefulness and openness in Communist-ruled Poland. He wrote it after the death of John Coltrane, as he was a huge fan of the late master. But this complex and slow composition does not attempt to follow Coltrane's musical innovations, even if the repeated theme of dense wall-of-sound does directly reference the late saxophone icon. This majestically performed, beautiful suite sounds like a gift of gratitude to Coltrane's legacy, with a non-religious, encompassing, uplifting sense of spirituality that still mourns the great loss of this unique and powerful musician. Winnicki's modal "Anubis" concludes this release, inspired by a similar love for the legendary Coltrane.

This ensemble has developed its own voice and its own pulse; a collaborative, patient and slow-burning exploration of Komeda's compositions. A warm and melancholic sound is found on "Ballad for Bernt" (from Knife in the Water (1962) and "Litania," which features the warm sounds of Johnson and Medyna. The post-bop, hard-swinging arrangement of "Astigmatic" is led by Medyna's serpentine sax solo, while "Prayer and Question" features Winnicki's most unfettered solo of the set. Winnicki's engaging arrangements breathe new and fresh into these beautiful melodies.

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.

Title: Requiem | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: WM Records

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