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ADAM SIMMONS CREATIVE MUSIC ENSEMBLE

Tribute to Zatoczka

FAT RAIN FAT021 [61:05]

 

Sleep Safe and Warm (Rosemary’s Baby theme)

Interlude 1

Crazy Girl

Ballad for Bernt

Interlude 2

Roman II

Moja ballada

Astigmatic

Interlude 3

Vampires to Crypt

Kattorna

Bariera – 8

Litania

PO Katastrophe

Sleep Warm and Safe (reprise)

Recorded November 2019

 

I’m afraid I have long since ignored artists who ‘curate’ things; select is the word they are too highfalutin to use, but I make an exception here as Adam Simmons is doing the ‘curating’ and what he’s selecting is the music of Polish cinema and jazz composer Krzysztof Komeda. His wretchedly early death, still in his thirties, in 1968 was not enough entirely to efface his work; for Polanski in particular - Rosemary’s Baby most famously but also Knife in the Water and Cul-de-sac amongst others.

This live concert was recorded at Deakin Edge in Australia on 29 November 2019 to mark Polish Music Day. It was also presented by Polish Cinema in Australia to note the 50th anniversary of Komeda’s death and contribution to film music. The overall concept of the evening belonged to Simmons and Jean Poole. There are three interpolated Interludes in this 61-minute programme though one lasts 19 seconds, another 45 and the longest, the second, actually stretches out for 2:21. It’s only the second interlude that registers, since Niko Schauble’s percussion is foregrounded. Otherwise I query their relevance.

The disc begins, and ends, with the theme to Rosemary’s Baby. It allows one to savour the romanticist pianism of Tony Gould, whose eloquence is unquestioned here and throughout. The remarkable wordless vocal comes courtesy of Deborah Kayser, whose voice elsewhere is used instrumentally, if again wordlessly, adding a rich sense of colour to the ensemble. Simmons unveils a sinewy and strong sax solo in Crazy Girl whereas Ballad for Bernt draws out a supple piano introduction and some genuinely pensive sax; altogether a well-crafted and a concise pleasure that draws audience applause. Roman II shows a perceptive approach to arrangements; the vibes of Nat Grant are prominent and so too the sax’s repeated line, the bass and brass riffing away. Simmons draws a solo over bass (Howard Cairns, strong toned) and Schauble’s drums. Trumpeter Gavin Cornish takes a smoking solo in this swinging and verve-full opus full of colour and space. The band wrongfoots the audience which breaks into premature applause. For me this is one the highlights of the concert.

The most focused instrumental moment comes in Gould’s solo work on Moja Ballada which requires little translation. The refined tracery of his phrasing, the limpidity of his touch and the romantic artistry with which he plays is a perfect conduit for this exquisite ballad. The band does well with the fragmentary elements of Astigmatic, one of Komeda’s most forward-looking pieces and drifting colours – classy drumming here - and rhythmic variety are alike features of this one. The warm sustained and evocative Kattorna – nice flute here from Gideon Brazil and Kayser’s voice used as a kind of canon with the saxes - generate a great sonority. Simmons ruminates on sax and Cornish dovetails well.

Bariera – 8 is a solo saxophone reverie, and it refracts a melancholic soliloquy, an Eastern European lament; Simmons’ dynamics are acutely perceptive, and the feel is just right. Whereas there’s a solemn feel to the ensemble on Litania; a crisp trumpet and soaring vocal. Gould’s piano inclines to the Baroque in PO Katastrophe and the sonorous band sounds excellent – full, tonally rich, sprung by punchy, kicking rhythms.

This is a fine tribute to a much-respected musical figure. As noted, I could have done without the scene-moving Interludes, which might have worked on the night but don’t easily survive the trek to the CD drive. Otherwise this is a successful disc, both punchy and reflective, as befits the multifarious composer who is the worthy subject of the tribute.

Jonathan Woolf


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