Krzysztof Komeda - piano
Tomasz Stańko - trumpet
Zbigniew Namysłowski - saxophone
Roman Dyląg - bass
Rune Carlsson - drums
Krzysztof Komeda W Polskim Radiu Vol.07 – Litania
POLSKIE RADIO 1939
By Adam Baruch
This is the seventh 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. The music presented here is part of the very last recordings made by Komeda before his death, all done in October 1967, which was a very busy time for him just before he left Poland for the US on December 17, 1967 and returned already in a comatose state following his tragic accident in October 1968.
Between October 7 and October 10, 1967 the Komeda Quintet with trumpeter Tomasz Stańko, saxophonist Zbigniew Namysłowski, bassist Roman Dyląg and Swedish drummer Rune Carlsson recorded in Baden Baden, Germany the seminal album "Meine Susse Europaische Heimat: Dichtung Und Jazz Aus Polen", which was produced by my friend and mentor Joachim Berendt. The album was originally planned to be recorded in May 1967, and most sources state this as the recording date, but due to Komeda's illness the recording was in fact postponed and took place as stated above. This album created a great stir behind the Iron Curtain and presented openly Polish Jazz and Polish Poetry to the Western public for the first time.
Dylag, who was living in Sweden at the time, and Carlsson arrived in Germany from Sweden invited especially for this recording and continued together with the rest of the Quintet (riding two cars) to Warsaw, where the Komeda Quartet (Quintet less Namysłowski) played a concert on October 14, 1967 during the Jazz Jamboree Festival. The concert included Komeda's extended composition "Night Time, Day Time Requiem" dedicated to the memory of John Coltrane, composed shortly after Coltrane's death in July 1967, which is included here.
Immediately following the Jazz Jamboree appearance, most probably on October 16 or 17, 1967, the Quintet recorded a session at the Polish Radio studio, which included six tunes, including "Litania" and another version of "Night Time, Day Time Requiem", both of which are included here. The other four tunes were already included on the previous album of this series. The Quartet also recorded a concert for the Polish Television, which also presents "Night Time, Day Time Requiem" and a mega rare interview with Komeda conducted by Polish Jazz critic and broadcaster Roman Waszko. Considering the fact that Dylag and Carlsson had visas to stay in Poland for just one week, and left Poland immediately before the visas expired, it is certain that all the music recorded in Poland was recorded within that particular week.
The music reflects beautifully the development of Komeda as a pianist/composer/bandleader in the last period of his activity. Coltrane's death had an immense influence on Komeda, who was a great admirer of the American Giant and followed his path of discovery closely. The piece dedicated to Coltrane is spiritually the closest piece of Polish Jazz music to the music of Coltrane during his latest period.
It is fascinating to compare the two versions of "Night Time, Day Time Requiem"; the earlier live version, played by the Quartet, is masterly performed but still not fully emotionally developed, while the emotional elements erupt on the second version, recorded just days later by the Quintet. Therefore this album is certainly one of the most important Komeda albums, catching Komeda at his absolute peak as a composer with the magnificent "Litania" and performer with the music dedicated to Coltrane.
The recordings are splendidly restored and remastered and nicely packaged in an elegant digipak/slipcase, 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.
Side Note: On the album's liner notes the two versions of "Night Time, Day Time Requiem" are listed in reverse order to the order they actually appear on the CD. Also the recording date of the studio version of "Night Time, Day Time Requiem" is listed as 1968, which is not possible as stated above.