Saturday, May 2, 2015

Oles Brothers & Christopher Dell – Komeda Ahead (2014)

Oleś Brothers & Christopher Dell

Marcin Oleś - bass
Bartłomiej Oleś - drums
Christopher Dell - vibraphone

Komeda Ahead

FSR 01



By Adam Baruch

It is extremely difficult to communicate anything truly innovative about Krzysztof Komeda's music. Since the tragic death of the Godfather of modern Polish Jazz over four decades ago, his enigmatic compositions have been the subject of a vast number of recordings in Poland as well as other countries, where his music was discovered. These recordings cover every Komeda compositions in every possible instrumental settings and stylistic sub-genre, ranging from works of pure genius to unspeakable pastiches. Therefore one should not be surprised by the fact that Jazz connoisseurs approach every new recording of Komeda's music with extreme caution.

Bassist Marcin Oleś and his twin brother drummer Bartłomiej Brat Oleś have paid their dues on the European Jazz scene since the onset of the 21st Century, slowly climbing to the well earned position of one of the top European Jazz rhythm sections. But they are also both formidable composers and activist, spinning a web of international contacts and collaborations, many of which resulted in recording of a succession of fabulous albums over the time. One of such meetings was with the German vibraphonist/composer Christopher Dell, which led to this Komeda project to be commissioned by the Berliner Jazzfest in 2011, where it was debuted in November of that year.

The concept behind this project was to show Komeda as a composer of complex, expanded musical forms, as reflected by the four long tracks on this album, as well as a weaver of concise magical melodic miniatures, as those presented by the four short tracks. These two facets of Komeda's work have never been presented earlier as complimenting each other.

The actual performance of the music is also completely unique and innovative. First there is the overall low key, low volume, completely acoustic approach, with each and every note being a crucial piece of the complete puzzle. Secondly there is the minimalism, a reserved approach stating that "less is more" and emphasized by the intrinsic inner calmness of the vibraphone, probably the most delicate and intimate instrument at our disposal. There is not a single note here that sounds redundant or unnecessary. And lastly there is a gorgeous freedom of expression, which is the predominant factor of this music, unrestricted by melody, harmony or rhythm. The Komeda fans will have no trouble to hear the familiar themes in this music, but at the same time they will be able to hear those themes stretched and expanded into previously untraveled territories.

It seems that Oleś Brothers & Christopher Dell managed to achieve the goal of discovering and exposing more of the eternal beauty and charm hidden in Komeda's music, and we, the listeners should be grateful for such discoveries. This music, with its elegance and eloquence, is a superb example of what Culture is all about.

Side Note: The above are the original liner notes, which were supposed to accompany the music as initially intended. However, as it often happens, the somewhat convoluted fate of this album's release resulted in selecting different liner notes sometime along the line. Since I deeply love the music, as evident in my writing above, I feel that publishing them here is appropriate.

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