Krzysztof Komeda introduced Polish jazz into the worldwide jazz. He was the first Polish jazz composer to be accepted and to make a success in the USA. It triggered a change in the attitude of communist authorities to Polish jazz musicians and composers. However, prior to that, Komeda had brought about a bigger interest in jazz music among Polish audience. By that time jazz had been regarded as an artistically inferior kind of music and in the 50s, at the time of the communist regime, even as ideologically dangerous.

Along with his bosom friend, also a jazz pianist, Andrzej Trzaskowski, in terms of art, he was the most mature musician performing contemporary jazz and that’s why it was he who started and accelerated the development of jazz music in Poland.

It was mainly Krzysztof Komeda’s merit that jazz could be heard in the National Philharmonic.

The secret of his music was a unique mood featuring distinctive Slavic lyricism. I wasn’t surprised that after the early 60s performances in Stockholm and Copenhagen Scandinavian critics called him “contemporary young Chopin from Poland”.

Three years ago in the European specialist press Komeda was called a “propagator” of European jazz. It was certainly contributed by Tomasz Stańko who had recorded Komeda’s compositions on his CD “Litania”. I was particularly pleased to hear that Komeda’s music was appreciated in England. After his successes in Scandinavia Krzysztof was thinking about performing in London. However, English trade unions raging in the 60s approved of concerts only on the basis of exchange of musicians, I mean Komeda’s quartet for an English quartet in Poland, but in those communist days, the time of huge red tape it involved talks with the Polish Artists Agency PAGART, the Department of Culture, the Polish Students’ Association, etc. Finally I gave it up. I do think I should have been firmer, though as it was the case with Bernt Rosengren, a Swedish tenor saxophonist in 1961, who owing to my actions, was permitted to stay a month longer after Jazz Jamboree Festival to perform in many places in Poland and participate in recording the score to Roman Polański’s film “Knife in the Water”.

In this case I just didn’t make it in time !

Zofia Komeda

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