Sunday, July 4, 2010

Marek Hendrykowski - Komeda (2009)

I am spending this weekend with this book. I am returning to Komeda over and over again since so many years. My love towards jazz has started years back with Roman Polański film Knife In Water which would be unimaginable without Krzysztof Komeda brilliant music. Without Komeda we would never have Polish jazz as it now is: avant-garde, cool and self-conscious, its identity truly unique and recognized throughout Europe and world. 
Unlike other Polish jazzmen, even most famous of them, there are many books and articles about Komeda. Surprisingly yet his life is still somewhat obscure and his music also eludes the definite analysis. Perhaps the reason is that his music and personality is still alive (although in 2009 it was 40th anniversary of his untimely death), it evokes response and is redefined by new generations of musicians over and over again.
This book sheds light mainly on earlier stage of life of Komeda before he moved to Cracow where he was employed at famous Helicon club and where he met Tomasz Stańko. And on his work as film music composer. Such a point of view this book owes to the person of its author Marek Hendrykowski, professor at Poznań University and well-known author of many books on film art. 
Komeda started his career in Poznań where he studied medicine and from where his family came from. In Poznań he created his first band called Sekstet with which he gave first historic concert of modern jazz in Poland during 1956 Sopot Festival. It coincided with breakthrough in Polish political life when in 1956 again in Poznań there took place local uprising which though quelled in blood was the beginning of many changes in Poland's political life, all in the direction of its liberalization. Jazz was in avant-garde of this political movement, it embodied its juvenile and ludic roots. As such of course it wasn't supported by state and that was the reason why Komeda move to Cracow where it was easier to support himself as jazz musicians than in smaller Poznań. But still in Poznań Komeda made perhaps one of the most significant decisions in his life. In 1956 he completed his studies and started work in Poznań polyclinic as laryngologist and was offered 3 years science scholarship in Prague - a sensational beginning to his career in medicine. He hesitated for some time but finally supported by his future wife Irena he decided to resign from his career as doctor and dedicate himself wholly to jazz. His family was outraged and he had to face their frustration and his own regret that he will never be a doctor again. But this hard decision was also critical not only to his life but also to the history of jazz and to Polish culture in general. There are many such brilliant analysis in this book which make it truly a most valuable reading for anybody interested in Polish jazz.  
Foreign readers interested in Krzysztof Komeda I recommend a visit to internet museum dedicated to this artist (with English version). Truly magnificent place in worldwide web:

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