Following the rhapsodic response to Wojtek Mazolewski’s debut Whirlwind release – a deluxe edition of Polka which, internationally, broke through into dance clubs and rock and indie festivals – the double bassist now focuses attention on the music of his compatriot Krzysztof Komeda (1931–1969), a legend of Polish jazz and an illustrious Hollywood film composer. When Angels Fall again features his inventive quintet of Oskar Török (trumpet, electronics), Marek Pospieszalski (tenor saxophone), Joanna Duda (Wurlitzer, grand piano) and Qba Janicki (drums, percussion) as they explore the prolific output of this enigmatic and tragically departed creative talent.
Mazolewski describes the recording’s foundations. “As I was preparing to make this album, I immersed myself in Komeda’s music, read his publications and memoirs, met people who had known him, and visited the places he lived, from Poznan to Los Angeles. I felt that I needed to have a real feeling for who he was and how he lived, which helped to enrich the project with a new awareness as well as deeper feelings and emotions. As a result, I have spent the past three years creating original material based on Komeda’s music for the Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet (WMQ).”
He drew great inspiration from cinematic directors including Roman Polanski (‘Rosemary’s Baby’, ‘Knife in the Water’) and Jerzy Skolimowski (‘Barrier’), for whose movies Komeda wrote and which are represented on this recording. “The combination of their talent and their tenderness with Komeda’s music still makes a big impression today,” asserts Mazolewski, “and also forces one to think more deeply. This is an album about life and its greatest gifts… about impermanence… about death and its mystery.”
Hear WMQ’s stomping interpretation of Komeda’s piano quartet tune ‘Roman II’ (from movie ‘Knife in the Water’) or their pulsating, almost ominous switch from the melancholic, choral original of ‘Bariera’, and you begin to understand this band’s oblique, sometimes angular approach. It’s a journey of constant surprises – the orchestral/vocal mood of ‘Le Départ’ (from screenplay ‘Start’) reimagined as a softly-ebbing, horn-led ballad. ‘When Angels Fall’ (from Polanski’s ‘Knife in the Water’) feels introspective, its plaintive Stańko-like trumpet melody hovering over Wurlitzer and electronics; and ‘Sleep Safe and Warm’ (from ‘Rosemary’s Baby’) paints a transcendental, dreamlike aura. But the quintet’s buoyancy is never far away, heard in bustling ‘Memory of Bach’ and radio-groove-styled ‘Ja nie chcę spać’.
Rosław Szaybo – longtime friend of Komeda and artist for the cover of his acclaimed ‘Astigmatic’ release of 1965 – has designed the cover of this album, too. “I am very honored that he did this for us,” says Mazolewski, “because it creates a direct artistic link to the maestro himself. He shared so many wonderful stories with me (including stories about Krzysztof Komeda) that you won’t read in books, but that you will hear on this album.” It’s a sound which indubitably teems with ingenuity and integrity; and as Szaybo confirms, “This music has come closer to Komeda than any from the past 30 years.”
Wojtek Mazolewski - double bass
Oskar Torok - trumpet, electronics
Oba Janicki - Drums, percussion
Joanna Duda -Wurlitzer, piano
Marek Pospieszalski - tenor saxophone
Recorded at Polish Radio Studio, Warsaw ( Feb 18/19 2019)
Engineered by Jack Gladkowski, Ewa Guziolek-Tubelewicz
Mixed by Jack Gladkowski
Mastered by Arek Kopera
Produced by Wojtek Mazolewski
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch
Graphic Design - Mariusz Mrotek
Photos - Ewelina Eris Wojcik, Artur Rawicz
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