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The Genius of Jazz  

What the critics say

Innovator with a complex of tradition, romanticist expressing himself in the contemporary idiom, poet of piano — this is KRZYSZTOF KOMEDA, one of those musicians who have widened the essence of jazz.
Adam Slawinski

Mr. Komeda was an excellent composer. Like the works of Wayne Shorter and Billy Strayhorn, his jazz ballads were full of romantic unease, but they often didn’t suggest a complete, scripted emotion. Their melodies are expressed in long notes and lines that sometimes seem to be missing a few important pieces or a resolution; they’re mysterious and fragmentary, leaving you to guess the rest. As a jazz bandleader, Mr. Komeda remains barely known in the United States. (Too bad: his quintet record “Astigmatic,” from 1966, with Mr. Stanko in the group, is one of the great jazz records of its time.)
Ben Ratliff

...emphasizing music and sounds as an equal counterpart to images.
Manfred Eicher

"Astigmatic" has become a bellwether for European jazz, with critics pointing to how this album marked a shift away from the dominant American approach with the emergence of a specific European aesthetic. In terms of structure (ad hoc song forms that had a lot to do with Komeda’s film writing), its improvisational and rhythmic approach, "Astigmatic" represents a fresh approach and a different way of hearing and playing jazz.
Stuart Nicholson

His music reflects not the growing of jazz in our country in the '60-s, but echoes the big influences: Bill Evan's refinement, Eric Dolphy's free and even John Coltrane's abandon. The title piece 'Astigmatic', except for the beginning, presents little of ensemble interaction. Rather, we hear exciting dialogues by trumpet and piano or trumpet and bass. Komeda's piano dictates the levels of tension: it emerges, grows inciting, fades away and emerges again. Namyslowski's alto takes up backed by bass and drums. Lenz's solo opens the way for the drummer and then piano reappears. After a sudden take-off by the whole ensemble the piece burns out in barely audible bass flageolets. 'Kattorna' a disquieting music from the Danish movie by Carlssen (the title means Kittens), changes on this disc into real tour de force by Stanko, that reminds us of Mexican deguello from the siege of Alamo time. Komeda's exceptional illustrative talent made him the much valued composer of music to many movies and among them some by R. Polanski. 'Svantetic', dedicated to Swedish poet Svante Forster, creates initially an impression of a dirge, but its main diatonic motif in d-minor (a Polish boy scouts song) is merely the nucleus of truly dramatic jazz development in which we hear much of Namyslowski's alto and also beautiful meditations by bass and piano. It seems to be the best piece by Komeda. However, structurally it has double ending: after the first, the drum solo leads to the reappearance of the initial theme that spans the whole, but the last sentence - not without the protest of others - belongs to the trumpet.
Andrzej Schmidt

Komeda was a man of as few words as he was of notes. He arranged his notes in twos or threes, into micro-themes from which, through repetition and transformation, a unique sort of iteration, he would build a melody and the work's form.
Tomasz Tluczkiewicz

By sheer force of his personality Komeda justified his need to control the emotional territory hitherto reserved for symphonies. He expanded the range of expression in jazz by adding a dramatized lyricism - it's force reaching the intensity of ecstatic and mysterious experience. The new jazz aesthetic demanded the new form. Komeda introduced a directional form of arch, developed from an exposition through culmination to a final resolution.
Adam Slawinski

Essential Recordings



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