In his brief 38 years, composer Krzysztof Komeda wrote film music for 60 movies, and was the principal architect for the scores of works from Roman Polanski. Though not on a par with Nino Rota or Ennio Morricone, Komeda made his mark with modern post-bop jazz. The Komeda Project is dedicated to preserving his music, interpreting his charts, and expanding on the themes with their own personal stamp of approval. This CD is not a soundtrack to any movies, but select compositions from the screen works are given updates. The saxophone-trumpet front line of Krzysztof Medina and Russ Johnson are very much like Joe Henderson and Kenny Dorham in that they have a good sense of each others strengths, and play together quite well -- neither voice dominates the other. Pianist Andrzej Winnicki is the real star here, as are his driving comping, left-hand basslines, and harmonic sense, which color the compositions in shades of fiery red, dark blue, and deep purple. You hear some outstanding music of Komeda's, but there are several standout originals written by Winnicki. "Is That Your Final Answer?" straight out of Regis Philbin's mouth, is a fleet post-bop original using Charles Mingus-like stop/start phrases or up-and-down dynamics, brimming with ideas and shared purpose. In addition, "Stop Time" is a very hip 6/8 to 4/4 modal ear popper reminiscent of John Coltrane's "Syeeda's Song Flute." Equally startling are the first two pieces -- the title track (from Polanski's Knife in the Water) that sits light and breezy, reminiscent of the mainstream jazz signature of the Blue Note label but with a distinct edge, while "Kattorna" (from the movie of the same name) sports a strong, upbeat, direct melody with clockwork rhythms feeding a repetitive bassline. These two tracks clearly identify the quintet's intentions, realized all the way through. There are introspective, free floating introductions or bowed bass-led melodies courtesy of Michael Bates, more waltz tempos, singing and swinging modalities. Only two remotely film noir image pieces are present -- the haunting-to-pretty "Ballada" (also from Knife in the Water) and "Sleep Safe & Warm," (from Polanski's all-timer Rosemary's Baby) a serene after-hours, one-minute piano-flugelhorn lullaby duet. A further introduction to Komeda's music can be heard on many other recordings, but the Project has done his sound proud on this vital, exciting, and seminal offering that cannot come more highly recommended.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos