Komeda Project

Sound Lounge, June 13

Andrea res
Andrea Keller

Krzysztof Komeda was dead at the age of 37. In that truncated life this Polish medical doctor had penned the scores for over 40 films, including most of Roman Polanski’s up to and including Rosemary’s Baby. Simultaneously he was a jazz pianist who did more than anyone since Django Reinhardt to develop a variant of jazz that was overtly European in flavour.

The Komeda Project, jointly led by pianist Andrea Keller and trumpeter Miroslav Bukovsky, preserves and expands that legacy. The pair have concentrated on Komeda’s film music, arranging the material for an octet and often combining pieces into mini-suites. His compositions were always intriguing and highly variegated, not just because he was writing for cinema, but because he thought differently to all other composers.

Here made more engaging than haunting, the much-loved lullaby from Rosemary’s Baby featured a storming solo from alto saxophonist Andrew Robson. The first part of a suite mainly drawn from Le Depart was like a game of snakes and ladders, chunky climbing figures alternating with a sliding descents. Deeper into the same suite Robson unleashed an alto cadenza of astonishing energy that had multiple lines of attack colliding, trembling, building once more, and cavorting wildly.

Another Le Depart excerpt had a flitting, skittering dialogue between Keller’s piano and James Crabb’s accordion, before Keller dropped notes into pools of silence for Night Time. Subsequently Crabb created a solo features so eerie it sounded like a choir of ghosts, and then guitarist Ben Hauptmann blistered the rocky surface of Alfred Over the Rooftops with vigorous support from bassist Jonathan Zwartz and drummer Evan Mannell.

While Komeda’s music was usually dark, the highlights coming from bizarre or manic edges, the Main Theme from Le Depart exemplified his gift for luminosity, the piano line echoed by Bukovsky and James Greening’s trombone.

Much Komeda remains for this commendable band to explore, from the thrilling Rosemary’s Baby sequence when Rosemary uses the lift to flee her tormentors to his entire jazz canon.