Monday, May 11, 2020

Leszek Żądło - Miss B. (2018)

Leszek Żądło

Leszek Żądło - tenor & soprano saxophones
Andrzej Cudzich - double bass
Janusz Stefański - drums

Miss B.


By Adam Baruch

This is an archival album by Polish (resident in Germany) Jazz saxophonist/composer/educator Leszek Żądło recorded in a trio format with bassist Andrzej Cudzich and drummer Janusz Stefański. The album presents six compositions, four of which are originals composed by Żądło and two are standards. The album was recorded the day after the funeral ceremony of Barbara Kwiatkowska-Lass (the Miss B. to whom this album is dedicated), Leszek´s wife. Sadly both Cudzich and Stefański are not longer with us as well.

Although this is supposed to be an album´s review, this music and the people behind it are way to close to me and my family to allow me to write about it in an objective way, and I'd rather state here a few personal comments/memories about it.

Leszek and I share many common crossroads in our life´s stories. We were both forced to leave Poland in the 1960s for political reasons. Leszek left first to Austria and later to Germany and I left to Israel. We both managed to build successful personal lives and careers in our new homelands, but we also kept in touch with our Polish friends and of course with the Polish Culture in general and Polish Jazz in particular. Both of us were banned from visiting Poland for many years and our Polish passports were confiscated and voided. We both organized concerts and events to support the Polish "Solidarity" movement in its struggle for political freedom in Poland and we both rejoiced when Poland finally managed to break the shackles of Socialist tyranny.

During all these years and to this very day, for five decades, we stayed in constant contact, supported each other in hours of need and sorrow and consoled each other when dark skies have hidden the sunshine. In the 1980s and first half of 1990s my family (my wife, my daughter and myself) have spent many days in the incredible house in the suburbs of Munich, where Leszek and Basia (as we called Barbara) and their lovely dogs greeted as always with friendship and love and great food and splendid company. We shared our love of people, music, movies and of course dogs, spending hours on end talking and eating and drinking wine till the small hours of the night.

Basia was the sweetest, gentlest person one can imagine. She was completely devoid of the ego mannerisms often associated with film stars, a wonderful devoted mother and a true friend. The news about her serious illness and finally about her tragic and unexpected death were a horrific blow to Leszek and of course to all the people who knew and loved her, our family amongst them. We all remember her most fondly and she will always be a part of our lives.

In 2016 Leszek and I received on the same stage our respective Polish Jazz "Oscars", he for his lifetime achievements as a musician and I for my achievements in Jazz Journalism. A few months later I invited Leszek to be the Resident Artist of the Singer Jazz Festival, of which I am the Artistic Director. During this residency Leszek, supported by a dream team of top Polish Jazz musicians, performed the lost musical composed by the Godfather of Polish Jazz, Krzysztof Komeda, called "Wygnanie Z Raju" ("Exile From Eden"), which we immediately re-christened jokingly as "Wygnanie Z Kraju" ("Exile From Our Country") referring to our common past. 

As to the album I am supposed to write about: Well Leszek never played an unnecessary note in his life and the traumatic circumstances surrounding this recording only emphasize his sublime power of expression, with the music serving as the only way to both escape and express his grief. Everything else is already within the music itself. For me Leszek will always be the greatest Polish saxophone player of all times.

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