Friday, June 21, 2013

Krzysztof Komeda – Polish Radio Jazz Archives Vol.04 (2013)

Krzysztof Komeda - piano

POLSKIE RADIO 1600









By Adam Baruch

This is the fourth installment in the new series of releases initiated by the Polish Radio, which presents archive Jazz recordings. Radio recordings are always a fabulous source of remarkable material, and as far as Polish Jazz history is concerned, the Polish Radio, which was a state monopoly for 45 years, recorded over time a plethora of invaluable material, which apart from the albums released by the Polskie Nagrania record company (also a state monopoly), is the only additional source of Polish Jazz recordings. For many years Polish Radio recorded concerts presented during Poland's most important Jazz venue, the annual Jazz Jamboree Festival and many other festivals as well.

The material presented here was recorded between 1957 and 1962 and presents the iconic figure of the Godfather of Polish Jazz, pianist / composer Krzysztof Komeda. Of the twelve recordings, first five are studio radio recordings and seven are live recordings from the 1961 and 1962 Jazz Jamboree Festivals. Most of the material was recorded in a trio / quartet setting except for the four 1957 recordings, which were recorded by a larger ensemble. The remastering work is incredible and the sound quality brigs this music back to life at its full bloom, which of course is great news for the numerous Komeda fans all over the world.

The music presents a retrospective look at Komeda's early phase, which shows the remarkable development of his immense talent both as a player and a composer. The transition from the early period when Komeda is performing American Jazz standards into the later period when he plays almost exclusively his original compositions shows the birth of European Jazz, of which Komeda was one of the earliest leaders, caught live in action. It also shows his role as a composer of film music, including his early score to the Andrzej Wajda film "Innocent Sorcerers" and his monumental music for the Roman Polanski debut film "Knife In The Water". This is the Holy Grail of Polish Jazz, which certainly deserves to be kept alive and passed from generation to generation as part of the Artistic heritage, Polish and Worldwide alike.

However, some questions arise as to the actual selection of the material for this release; although I have been assured by the people in charge of the production of this album, that all the music included herein is previously unreleased, it is hardly conceivable considering the plethora of Komeda releases (legal, semi-legal or completely bootleg) over the years, with the extended "complete" Komeda series by both Power Bros and Polonia labels and even the Polskie Nagrania / Muza 3CD set of Komeda performances at Jazz Jamboree, released in 2011, which seems to duplicate some of the music included here, and of course the lack of a proper booklet with proper liner notes, photographs and other well deserved details, which this monumental music truly deserves. Polish Radio really should have made a better judgment and more of an effort here. A pity!

As usual with this series, this is a great document of the era and an integral part of the Polish Jazz saga, which deserves to be told and studied. My advice is to get hold of this gem ASAP, as Polish CDs are often out of print before the paint dries on the booklets.

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