Label: WM Records
Night-Time, Daytime Requiem; Ballad for Bernt; Dirge for Europe; Astigmatic; Elutka; Prayer and Question; Litania; Anubis
Additional Personnel / Information
Russ Johnson: trumpet; Krzysztof Medyna: saxophones; Andrzej Winnicki: piano; Scott Colley: bass; Nasheet Waits: drums
Plenty has been written about European musicians approaching the American jazz tradition; it's far rarer to hear about American musicians bringing their heritage to distinctly European projects. Capitalizing on the critical acclaim for its debut, Crazy Girl, pianist Andrzej Winnicki and saxophonist Krysztof Medyna - the driving force behind Komeda Project - bring trumpeter Russ Johnson back for Requiem. What makes Requiem different, however, and a significant evolution over Crazy Girl, is the enlistment of über-bassist Scott Colley and equally ubiquitous drummer, Nasheet Waits. Like Crazy Girl, Requiem's primary focus is to bring the music of the late, legendary Polish composer/pianist Krysztof Komeda into the new millennium with fresh arrangements, but this time the approach is far more open-ended. Sacrificing the comfort zone of a group familiar with the music, Winnicki and Medyna opted, instead, for the first encounter sound of surprise that comes from working with master musicians like Colley and Waits. The initially dark-hued Prayer and Question leads into one of Requiem's fieriest passages, with Colley and Waits' hard-swinging foundation supporting both its serpentine melody and Winnicki's most unfettered solo of the set. Dirge for Europe heads into previously uncharted territory, a feature for Johnson and Medyna that's bolstered by Waits' propulsive, New Orleans-influenced rhythm. The three-part epic, Night-time, Daytime Requiem and equally complex, twisting and turning Astigmatic, put a contemporary face on two of Komeda's most timeless compositions. Born and raised in Poland, Winnicki and Medyna bring both a European classicism and melancholy Slavic melodism to music that's heavily refracted through the prism of the American tradition. Before moving to the United States, they spent years touring Europe with the award-winning group Breakwater. Medyna was also a member of In/Formation, touring on double bills with ECM recording artist/Polish trumpet legend Tomasz Stanko - Komeda's closest musical associate from 1963-1968. Winnicki and Medyna formed Komeda Project five years ago, after releasing In the Bush in 2001 with a reformed Electric Breakwater that also featured bassist Mark Egan and drummer Rodney Holmes. Trumpeter Russ Johnson has performed with a who's who of jazz heavyweights, including Kenny Wheeler, Bill Frisell, David Liebman and Joe Lovano, in addition to leading his own groups and touring with Lee Konitz's latest nonet. Scott Colley has become one of modern jazz's most in-demand bassists, playing with everyone from Pat Metheny, Jim Hall and Joe Lovano to Herbie Hancock, Kenny Werner and Brian Blade. Ever-inventive, with an innate ability to always find the right note, this Down Beat Rising Star winner from 2002-2004 has been an invaluable partner on countless sessions where finding the essence of the music is a true testament to expansive talent. Nasheet Waits has, with a résumé that includes work with Fred Hersch, Geri Allen, Steve Coleman, Stefon Harris, Andrew Hill and The Mingus Big Band, emerged as one of his generation's most important drummers. Like Colley, Waits' deep roots in the tradition are what give Requiem its edge - a record of unmistakably European jazz played with the swing and unmistakable conviction of an American rhythm section. On Requiem, everyone plays their hearts out, on a program of boldly thematic and challenging charts that still possess the underlying freedom required to encourage unpredictability, even within the most scripted of arrangements. With Requiem, Komeda Project ups the ante on the promise of Crazy Girl, paying reverent homage to one of the 20th Century's great composers while bringing modernistic edge, reckless abandon, and unmistakable swing to this profoundly moving set of starkly beautiful music.