Monday, January 5, 2015

Krzysztof Komeda Trzcinski – Krzysztof Komeda W Polskim Radiu Vol.03 – Krzysztof Komeda & Jerzy Milian (2014)

Krzysztof Komeda Trzciński

Krzysztof Komeda - piano
Jerzy Milian - vibraphone
with others

Krzysztof Komeda W Polskim Radiu Vol.03


By Adam Baruch

This is the third installment in a new series of albums launched by the Polish Radio, which presents radio recordings by the Godfather of Polish Jazz, pianist/composer/bandleader Krzysztof Komeda. Komeda is of course the most familiar name associated with Polish Jazz and his legacy is of crucial importance to Polish and European Jazz. Considering the fact that Komeda's studio recordings are relatively scarce, the radio recordings are in fact the main source of his recorded legacy, as they include among others the Jazz Jamboree festival appearances by Komeda and his various ensembles over the years.

Recorded between 1957 and 1963 this volume collects recordings which involve the cooperation between Komeda and vibraphonist/composer Jerzy Milian, a key member of Komeda's ensembles and a bandleader of his own right, who also achieved the legendary status of one of the Godfathers of modern Polish Jazz. The album presents three tracks recorded during the 1963 Jazz Jamboree Festival by Milian with Komeda's trio (bassist Maciej Suzin and drummer Leszek Dudziak), another three tracks recorded a year earlier at the 1962 Jazz Jamboree Festival by Milian's quintet (guitarist Wojciech Lechowski, bassist Tadeusz Wojcicki and drummer Leszek Dudziak) and finally one earlier radio recording from 1957 by Komeda's sextet (saxophonist Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski, trombonist Zdzislaw Brzeszczynski, bassist Jozef Stolarz and drummer Jan Zylber). Of course Komeda plays piano and Milian plays vibraphone on all tracks. Six of the tracks are standards and only one is an original composition by Komeda.

Obviously the emphasis here is on the performing abilities and the interplay between Komeda and Milian, rather than on the abilities of the two as composers, which are in retrospect more important. Milian's virtuosity is pretty obvious, as is his incredible feel for Swing and Be Bop at the time. Milian was definitely the closest musical partner Komeda had during the first period of his activity, before forming his groundbreaking ensembles by mid 1960s, which where influenced by avant-garde experimentation. Milian's extensive achievements as composer/arranger during the years following his involvement with Komeda constitute another fascinating chapter of the Polish Jazz history.

Overall this is a collection of excellent Jazz music, superbly performed, which is an absolute delight to anybody who loves Jazz. It is a fundamental piece of every decent Polish Jazz record collection, especially in the case of the younger generation of listeners, which is just getting acquainted with the enormous legacy of Polish Jazz.

The recordings are splendidly restored and remastered and nicely packaged in an elegant digipak/slipcase. Dates, places and lineups are faithfully included and even personal liner notes by young Polish Jazz critic (Roch Sicinski) are present, but there is no in-depth background material about Komeda and his music, however considering the plentitude of published material and several excellent books on the subject, an intelligent listener can easily bridge the knowledge gap. The only small reservation one might have is the fact that these recordings have been already released many times, more or less legally on the somewhat untamed Polish music market, which means they is already owned by the serious Polish Jazz collectors, probably more than once.

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