Artist: Krzysztof Komeda
If an astigmatism is blurred vision, that’s an apt name for Krzysztof Komeda’s landmark 1966 album cut in three nights in December ’65 in Warsaw, Poland.
“Astigmatic” – a name he took because dealing in jazz in Communist Poland in the 1960s was deemed suspiciously capitalist – is fluidly chaotic, holding up well to what was going on simultaneously in Western jazz.
Allusions to his contemporaries are strewn throughout. The title track takes place in stages. Tomasz Stańko’s languid trumpet solo dissolves into a turn on the alto sax from Zbigniew Namyslowski, who counters Stańko’s strained delivery with a jittery, staccato blast of energy.
Every time the listener thinks the song is about to die down, it comes in for another rush. By the time it’s done, 23 minutes are down and the record is half over.
This is purposefully heady stuff, a type of post-bop that John Coltrane or Charles Mingus might’ve delivered, but with less structure, leaning toward avant-garde. Komeda isn’t concerned with being the star, giving everyone a chance in the spotlight.
It may have been captured quickly, but “Astigmatic” is a Polish composer sending a message right back to America that they were sharing in the same vision for jazz.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.