There’s a particular melancholy that can hang in the air like mist; that you feel entering through your pores more than your ears; a soft, communal sadness that speaks of the ages. You hear it when contralto Deborah Kayser sings Keep Safe and Warm (from Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby) accompanied by pianist Tony Gould. That’s how Adam Simmons chooses to begin his startling tribute to Krzysztof Komeda, the great Polish film composer and jazz pianist who was ripped out of the world at the tender age of 37 in 1969. Many jazz artists have been drawn to his work, but few to better effect than Simmons – a brilliant saxophonist and arranger – and his eight colleagues.
Where much film music drifts, Komeda’s always had a destination and dazzling clarity about how to reach it, and when Simmons unleashes his vast woolly mammoth of a tenor sound on a piece like Roman II, the music, now the emotional polar-opposite of Keep Safe and Warm, sends thrills racing up and down your spine. The band includes the exceptional rhythm section of bassist Howard Cairns and drummer Niko Schauble, and the dual credit for Jean Poole is because she created accompanying images for the live concert at which this was recorded.