Label: WM Records
Crazy Girl; Kattorna; Ballada; Is That Your Final Answer?; Svantetic Prelude; Svantetic; Tail Piece; Stop Time; Sleep Safe and Warm.
Additional Personnel / Information
Russ Johnson: trumpet, flugelhorn; Krzysztof Medyna: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Andrzej Winnicki: piano; Michael Bates: bass; David Anthony: drums.
Among music fans, jazz people typically possess an exaggerated need for new stimuli. To hear something that has not been heard before is their endless quest. They are hereby directed to Crazy Girl by the Komeda Project. Not that this music is radical. But its basis in the compositions of Krzysztof Komeda, and its three soloists - gifted but little-known American outcat and two even less known Polish heavyweights - make Crazy Girl notably fresh. Krzysztof Komeda had a brief, remarkable life. He died in 1969 at 38 from injuries sustained in a fall while making a movie with Roman Polanski. By then he had become the founding father of the modern jazz movement in Poland. He had also written music for over 40 films, including all of Polanski's output from Knife in the Water to Rosemary's Baby. The Komeda Project is dedicated to bringing Krzysztof Komeda's wondrous music back to life. Komeda's unique themes, with their dramatized Slavic lyricism, give this album its character. Ballada (from Knife in the Water) and Kattorna (from the film of that title by Danish director Hening Carlssen), like all great melodies heard for the very first time, are both startling and familiar and, in Komeda's case, disquieting. But this is a jazz album, and what matters is how these players make Komeda's music their own. Russ Johnson's trumpet work is creative and diverse. He can embody Komeda's poignancy (Crazy Girl) or bump over the top of his forms (Kattorna), or define, then freely smear the outlines of Komeda songs (Ballada). Krzysztof Medyna is a powerful, hair-rising reed player. On Crazy Girl he is ejected straight up and flies. Pianist Andrzej Winnicki plays solos made of sudden shifts that all cohere, and is a blocky, confrontational accompanist. For all its liberating blowing, Crazy Girl is true to its cinematic premise. Even the boldest solos occur in narrative context, along an arc that moves through tension and release and continuously varied thematic allusion to culmination. The entire album makes an arc, because it ends with Komeda's most famous piece, Sleep Safe and Warm, the main theme from Rosemary's Baby. But we are given only a minute of its omnious lullaby, because it is only a tiny fraction of what Krzysztof Komeda was about. Performance: **** Thomas Conrad/Stereophile Magazine Crazy Girl by the Komeda Project, a quintet founded by pianist Andrzej Winnicki and saxophonist Krzysztof Medyna, is a very exciting project. It aims to bring the music of Krzysztof Komeda, its beauty, emotional intensity and logical yet dramatic structure, to a wider audience. While the jazz ethos is universal, Komeda's music distills the essence of Poland and pours it into the jazz bottle. Widely acclaimed as one of the prime creators of modern Polish, if not European jazz, Komeda's relatively short carrer had an enormous impact that is still being felt. The excitement, energy and the logical yet free structure of Komeda's work is readily apparent in the arrangements and playing. While Winnicki has looked at the scores, these tracks are not meant to be museum pieces, but rather a reaction in the present to the very core of Komeda's music. If you are familiar with any of the earlier generations, the Komeda-ness of these performances will be readily apparent. Johnson is not trying to sound like Stanko, but rather pours himself into the themes and plays with fire and controlled abandon. Medyna also does not sound like Zbigniew Namyslowski, the original alto saxophonist, but he is extremely exciting and also plays on the edge. Komeda was not a particularly strong piano soloist, but rather controlled the proceedings from the bench; Winnicki straddles the piano's original role with very fine soloing. Anthony and Bates are truly locked and drive the band sharply. Crazy Girl is a wonderful introduction to the musical world of Krzysztof Komeda. Highly recommended. Budd Kopman/allaboutjazz.com Even amongst the many engaging, skillfully-executed projects that cross our desk, it's rare to discover something as unexpectedly compelling as this. Co-founded by Polish-by-way-of-New-York pianist Andrzej Winnicki, the Komeda Project jazz quintet pays homage to the late Krzysztof Komeda. On the group's latest release, Crazy Girl, Andrzej's arrangements of Komeda's works are sophisticated and engaging, bringing to mind the warm vibe of such classic recordings as Kind of Blue; and Blues and the Abstract Truth ... and the entire group's musicianship remains exceptional throughout. Michael Gallant/Keyboard Magazine