“An innovator with a complex of tradition, romanticist expressing himself in the contemporary idiom, poet of piano – this was Krzysztof Komeda, one of those musicians who have widened the essence of jazz”*.
In his short life (until untimely death, after a tragic accident in Hollywood at the age of 38), Krzysztof Komeda (1931-1969) wrote music for more than 60 films, including classics of the Polish cinema by the Academy Award winners Roman Polanski and Andrzej Wajda.
It was Polanski who gave Komeda his first commission in 1957, and used his music in almost all of his films over the next decade; inviting him to Hollywood in 1967 to score his American film debut, “Rosemary’s Baby.” According to Polanski himself, the popular and critical success of “Rosemary’s Baby” owed much to Komeda’s empathy and creative imagination.
Even though Komeda’s film scores quite often made use of Jazz and improvisation, it is the music he wrote to perform and record as a pianist with his own jazz groups, especially 1965 recording of “Astigmatic,” that helped to develop a uniquely European (in structure and lyrical content, especially) style in jazz composition.
Their musical roots in Poland, founders of KOMEDA PROJECT - pianist ANDRZEJ WINNICKI and saxophonist KRZYSZTOF MEDYNA toured Europe extensively during the 1980's with their original jazz group Breakwater. The group was featured at European jazz festivals, won an international jazz competition (best group and best instrumentalist - Krzysztof Medyna), and was broadcast on television and radio. Later, Medyna also performed and recorded as a member of the group In/Formation, frequently touring side by side (on a double bill) with ECM recording artist, trumpeter Tomasz Stanko who worked on all of Krzysztof Komeda’s Polish soundtracks from 1964 onwards and was the composer’s closest musical associate and band member from 1963 until 1968.
In the United States, Winnicki and Medyna revived their original group during the 90’s under the name Electric Breakwater. Electric Breakwater’s CD “In the Bush”, released in 2001, with Mark Egan on bass and Rodney Holmes on drums is presently available on amazon.com.
Trumpeter Russ Johnson, a Manhattan School of Music graduate, is an active performer in the jazz, improvised, and contemporary classical music scenes throughout the U.S. and abroad. In addition to leading his own groups, Russ is currently touring as a member of Lee Konitz' new nonet and the Steve Swallow/Ohad Talmor "L'Histoire du Clochard" sextet. In addition, Russ has performed with a long list of musical heavyweights including: Kenny Wheeler, Bill Frisell, Joe Lovano, Richie Beirach, Mark Ribot, Charles Earland, David Liebman, Joe Maneri, The Jazz Passengers, Oliver Lake, Brian Blade, Tony Malaby and Mat Maneri as well as Elvis Costello, Debbie Harry, Michael Bublé, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson and Aretha Franklin
A native of Canada, bassist Michael Bates is a graduate of the University of Toronto and has performed with Quinsin Nachoff, Chris Speed, Matt Moran, Michael Blake, Gerald Cleaver, Dan Weiss, Jeff Davis, Kevin Turcotte, George Garzone, John Stetch, Scott Dubois, Michael Attias and Michael Sarin. He has toured Europe, Hong Kong, China, Korea and Japan and performed across the United States and across Canada. Michael Bates is on faculty at the Banff Centre of the Arts as Program Coordinator of the International Jazz Workshop where he works with the artistic director, Dave Douglas.
Drummer Dave Anthony also holds a degree from Manhattan School of Music. He began his professional career touring and recording with Oscar Award winning Tan Dun, composer of "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" movie score. He has recorded and/or performed with Glen Burtnick (songwriter/Styx), "Electric Breakwater" and Broadway’s "Swing" and “Moving out”.
Bringing Krzysztof Komeda’s wondrous music back to life is what KOMEDA PROJECT is all about. “He expanded the range of expression in jazz by adding a dramatized lyricism – its force reaching the intensity of ecstatic and mystical experience.”* It deserves not to be forgotten.
*from Adam Slawinski’s liner notes to Krzysztof Komeda’s “Astigmatic”.