Jazz In Polish Cinema
Out Of The Underground 1958-1967
By Maciej Nowotny
If there is something like Polish jazz as a distinctive phenomenon (which is questioned by the likes of Tomasz Stańko or Michał Urbaniak) it is largely thanks to its close relationship with the movies. Fortunately for both these arts - music and film - starting from year 1956, marking the end of Stalinist era in Poland, up to year 1968, the great exodus of last of Polish Jews from Poland imposed by the communist authorities on mainly its own adherents, Poland for a short while regained a little of its freedom which enabled the renaissance of cultural life. Literature began to flourish once again providing great scripts picked up by young directors fascinated by achievements of Italian neorealism and French New Wave. All these combined with new generation of extremely talented actors adopting the theatrical techniques of Stanislawski into cinema in a manner of Hollywood superstars of that era like James Dean or Marlon Brando provided for emergence of the famous Polish School, arguably the golden era of movie industry in Poland.
But without jazz music this incredible creative leap forward would be impossible or at least incomplete. As Roman Polański remarked thinking about Krzysztof Komeda score for award winning "Rosemary's Baby": "He gave truth to my films. Without his music they would be meaningless". And such a appreciation of the role not only of Komeda but of whole Polish jazz is not overstatement. One cannot imagine this epoch without jazz which is inextricably intertwined into the fabric of Polish history and culture. It was this moment in its history when jazz was something much more than just music. It was in fact a way of living. If somebody does not understand it he or she would also also not understand its current renaissance. Every Polish inteligent is brought up on these books, films and music. These are our roots. We can appreciate or question them but we cannot ignore them.
Because of all these reasons this album comprising 5 CDs and delivering ample selection of most notable jazz recordings from Polish movies cannot be anything but success. It is priceless for anybody who wants to plunge himself in the atmosphere of those years and feel the taste of times when yet NOT "everything was for sale". Today we live in a different era when jazz music manages (barely!) to survive only in niche, when good cinema is secluded to small cinemas or low cost cable TV channels. But on the other hand we have freedom of choice (something which at least between 1958-1967 in Poland was great luxury) and it is only up to us what kind of music we choose to listen. So do not hesitate: use your freedom well and you will not be disappointed, especially since this awesome album is beautifully edited, comprising excellently written, full of photographs lines notes (kudos to Adam Sławiński, Selwyn Harris and Monika Okrój!) which in itself is enough to justify the purchase of this outstanding release.