Polish Jazz Archive Acquired by Warner Music
small, Polish Jazz Archive Acquired by Warner Music, zbigniew_namyslowski_jazz_jamboree_1966_fot_tadeuszwackierforum.jpg, Zbigniew Namysłowski na Jazz Jamboree, 1966, fot. Tadeusz Wackier/Forum
The iconic Polish Jazz series, encompassing albums from Polish jazz legends such as Krzysztof Komeda and Tomasz Stańko, is to be reissued by Warner Music Poland. If you haven't had a chance to acquaint yourself with the highlights of Polish Jazz, you'll have no better opportunity to do so.
Gold in the mysterious archives
For almost 50 years, whilst Poland was under the Communist regime, almost all of the finest Polish jazz musicians recorded albums for the state-owned label Polskie Nagrania (Polish Recordings). Since there were no private labels, Polskie Nagrania (alongside the Polish National Radio Recording Agency) had a monopoly-like position and, between 1956 and 1989, recorded numerous albums of all kinds of music – from classical through jazz to pop and cabaret.
Unfortunately, Polskie Nagrania didn't handle democratization and the switch to the free market after 1989 well enough and went bankrupt in 2013, putting its marvellous archives at great peril. Soon, the label became available for acquisition but no one had a precise idea of what remained in its files, thus, how much it was worth. As obvious as the catalogue of released records was, the contents of its analogue archives and unpublished tapes and sessions were far too big and messy to unambiguously appraise. Buying it was a bit of a gamble. After a few unsuccessful auctions, Warner Music Poland decided to take the risk and acquired all the assets of Polskie Nagrania for a bit more than half a million dollars.
Polish Jazz reissued
One of the most famous and successful of Polskie Nagrania's series was Polish Jazz. For European jazz fans its status is almost legendary. It encompasses early recordings of the entire crème de la crème of the history of Polish Jazz, such as: Komeda’s album Astigmatic, voted numerous times the all-time most influential Polish jazz recording and game-changing records from Zbigniew Namysłowski – Kujawiak Goes Funky and Winobranie – as well as Tomasz Stańko's early free jazz works. Warner Music Poland announced the gradual reissuing of the entire series (76 albums) as well as plans to dig through the archives in search of potential lost gems.
In order to get you started with the legacy of Polish Jazz, Culture.pl has compiled a short selection of the albums worth beginning your musical journey with.
Krzysztof Komeda – Astigmatic (1965)
This album best answers the question of ‘What is Polish Jazz?’. Manfred Eicher, owner and founder of the legendary jazz label ECM, called it ‘a milestone in the history of jazz’. Komeda's romanticism-inspired compositions fused with the huge talents of the musicians he chose for this session resulted in a timeless work.
Tomasz Stańko – TWET (1974)
To date, Tomasz Stańko remains the most recognizable Polish jazz musician, as one of the ECM’s finest artists, successful both in Europe and United States. Even though his present-day style is a quintessence of what is called ‘ECM jazz’ (nostalgic, minimalistic, free-ish), his roots are straight free jazz. TWET, recorded with Peter Warren and Edmund Vesala, is a great piece for an adventurous listener.
Zbigniew Namysłowski – Winobranie (1973)
Multi-instrumentalist and musical genius Zbigniew Namysłowski is believed to be the one who introduced Polish folk to jazz. Winobranie is a highly original and revolutionary recording where free improvisation blends with odd meters, folkloric melodies, and surprising orchestration.
Mieczysław Kosz - Reminiscence (1971)
Mieczysław Kosz is mystery. He died (possibly by his own hand) at the age of 29, releasing only one album – Reminiscence. Its visionary character and unparalleled ambience of controlled chaos earned Kosz recognition and a place in the history of Polish jazz, despite his sparse output.
Adam Makowicz - Unit A (1976)
Adam Makowicz and Tomasz Stańko, accompanied by the best rhythm section of that time – Jarzębski and Bartkowski – recorded the album Unit in 1976. Virtuosity and insane improvisation meets a wide spectrum of traditional Polish music inspirations blending into a frantic piece of music.
And Many More...
Author: Wojciech Oleksiak, 6th April 2016.