Listeners accustomed to the characteristic sound of Komeda will definitely be surprised by the Oleś Brothers Trio playing the vibraphone, the double bass and drums, but no wind instruments or piano. But don’t worry, this transcription makes deep sense and displays a unique charm. The Oleś Brothers and Bartosz Pieszka are quite resourceful when it comes to giving Komeda’s music a second life in a new instrumental rendition. The sound of the vibraphone in the foreground adds an extraordinary ambience to Komeda’s compositions, for instance in the intriguing interpretation of Nighttime Daytime Requiem with a beautiful bass solo. But the specific resonance of Komeda Ahead is not just the sound of the vibraphone. Each musician makes a distinctive contribution to the project. The trio’s interpretation is not simply another tribute to the famous Polish jazzman’s oeuvre, but a bold, inventive venture that can definitely be seen as an innovative approach to Komeda’s music.
The Oleś Brothers and vibraphonist Bartosz Pieszka do not shy away from a sense of nostalgia, from effects rooted in the standards of contemporary music. Their performance fully absorbs listeners and makes them sensitive to the subtle instrumentation and soothing harmonies.
Take, for example, After the Catastrophe. The simple part of the bass, softly accompanied by the vibraphone and percussion, adds an even more emotive feeling to this uncomplicated piece and, markedly, brings out a clear-cut theme of which Komeda was an undisputed virtuoso. Or another example, Litania, where the same double bass takes over the part of wind instruments in Komeda’s original piece. Its texture becomes simpler, whilst emphasising the very essence of the piece: a melancholy melody and captivating harmonisation. Different instrumentation that changes the proportions of the particular parts, adorned with the trio’s improvisational power, gives the music a different quality that leaves no one indifferent.
The music was recorded in 2014 on an album that features seven pieces: Nighttime Daytime Requiem, My Ballad, Astigmatic, After the Catastrophe, Svantetic, Ballad for Bernt and Litania. Each piece displays the parts of the individual instruments in different proportions. In each, the artists drift in a slightly different direction. All are equally alluring, slightly disturbing, undefinably enchanting and non-obviously beautiful – probably as Komeda would have wanted.