Joachim Kuhn: New Trio Jazz At Berlin Philharmonic XIV – Komeda

German pianist pays tribute to Polish composer Krzysztof Komeda with bold, angular music, shaped by brooding chords


Krzysztof Komeda is hailed as a Polish jazz legend and regarded with the same respect and admiration in his native country as that of Chopin. Beyond Poland, he is perhaps best known for his film work after Roman Polanski brought him to Hollywood in 1967. Dying tragically young at the age of 37 in 1969, Komeda left an impressive body of material that continues to shape and inform the work of musicians who knew and revered him.

Many will know of Komeda through the recordings of Tomasz Stanko. On this album, Joachim Kuhn, who also knew Komeda and was in the studio in 1965 when the influential Astigmatic album was recorded, offers an imaginary musical dialogue between himself and his friend.

This is bold, angular music, shaped by brooding chords, a sense of darkness and space. The drama is heightened by the presence of the Atom String Quartet, who ratchet up the sense of unease and the unknown as they accompany Kuhn’s trio.

Komeda’s ability to link dramatic sound to equally dramatic, unsettling, visuals in the films he scored is an ever-present theme in the music. Schaefer propels everything with his insistent, surging drumming, which only builds the tension – notably on the hypnotic Kattorna. A softly swinging version of Sleep Safe And Warm works very well indeed and is also one of the highlights of the album.

The very personal nature of the album for Kuhn is emphasised in the final track, a remembrance of his brother Rolf, who died shortly before this concert was recorded. With both power and sensitivity, it demonstrates that perhaps no other art form connects us with ourselves and others so honestly as music.

Astigmatic; Kattorna; Svantetic; After The Catastrophe; Moja Ballada; Crazy Girl; Sleep Safe And Warm; Roman II; Encore: My Brother Rolf (74.00)
Kuhn (p); Chris Jennings (b); Eric Schaefer (d); Dawid Lubowitz, Mateusz Smocznski (vn); Michal Zaborski (vla); Krzysztof Lenczowski (clo). Berlin, 14 October 2022.
ACT 9972-2