Astigmatic (album)

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Krzysztof Komeda - Astigmatic.jpg
Studio album by
Released1966 (1966)
RecordedDecember 5–7, 1965
StudioWarsaw Philharmonic
GenreAvant-garde jazz, post-bop
ProducerWojciech Piętowski
Krzysztof Komeda chronology
Jazz Jamboree '64 vol. 2
Le Depart

Astigmatic is a studio album by Polish jazz pianist and composer Krzysztof Komeda. It is often considered to be Komeda's masterpiece as well as one of the greatest albums of both Polish and European jazz.[1][2][3]


Astigmatic consists of three long tracks, all written by Komeda. "Kattorna" (meaning "female cats" in Swedish)[1] is based on a motif from Komeda's soundtrack for a movie of the same name directed by Henning Carlsen.[4] "Svantetic" is dedicated to Svante Foerster, a Swedish poet who was a friend of Komeda.[5]

The music combines many disparate elements, including modal playing, free jazz-inspired improvisation, precise forms, tone clusters, aleatoric structures and avant-garde use of timbre and articulation, while imbuing them with individual expression and a sense of dramatic lyricism that's been compared to late Romantic music.[2][6]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings + crown[7]

Authors of The Penguin Guide to Jazz, Richard Cook and Brian Morton, named it as "one of the finest jazz albums ever made in Europe" and included it among their 1001 best jazz records.[3] Critic Stuart Nicholson wrote that it "has become a bellwether for European jazz, with critics pointing to how this album marked a shift away from the dominant American approach with the emergence of a specific European aesthetic".[8] Similarly, Jazzwise magazine stated that it "is one of the most important contributions to the shaping of a European aesthetic in jazz composition", placing it at number 85 in the list The 100 Jazz Albums That Shook the World.[9] Manfred Eicher, the founder of ECM Records, described Astigmatic as a milestone in the history of jazz.[10] It was voted the best album of all time by readers of the Polish Jazz Forum magazine.[1]

Writing about the 2016 reissue, FACT Magazine author Mikey IQ Jones stated: "Komeda's compositions and arrangements are beautiful and complex, and it's the rare epochal album whose power is still potent from the first listen through to its thousandth".[11]

The compositions from Astigmatic have been repeatedly reinterpreted by Polish jazz musicians, including Urszula Dudziak, Michał Urbaniak and Tomasz Stańko.[2] The title of the album Asthmatic by Polish free jazz band Miłość is an ironic reference to Astigmatic.[12]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by Krzysztof Komeda.[2][13]

Side A
Side B


Komeda Quintet[edit]

Additional personnel[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "KRZYSZTOF KOMEDA – "Astigmatic"" (in Polish). Archived from the original on December 13, 2014. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d ""Astigmatic" – Krzysztof Komeda Quintet" (in Polish). Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Morton, Brian; Richard Cook (2010) [1992]. The Penguin Jazz Guide: The History of the Music in the 1001 Best Albums. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (10th ed.). New York: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-104831-4.
  4. ^ Liner notes by Andrzej Schmidt for Astigmatic (Power Bros 00125)
  5. ^ Nicholson, Stuart (November 2008). "Krzysztof Komeda: The Lost Leader". Jazz Forum. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  6. ^ Original liner notes by Adam Sławiński
  7. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 835. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.
  8. ^ "Krzysztof Komeda – What the critics say". Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  9. ^ "The 100 Jazz Albums That Shook The World". Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  10. ^ Subbotko, Donata. "Żółty mustang Krzysia – wywiad z żoną Krzysztofa Komedy". Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  11. ^ "Delia Derbyshire, Larry Levan and Tony Conrad: The month's best reissues and retrospectives". Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  12. ^ Rerak, Sebastian (2012). Chłepcąc ciekły hel – Historia yassu. Gdynia: AKuKu Sztuka. p. 272. ISBN 978-83-925374-1-0.
  13. ^ "Astigmatic Polish Jazz Vol. 5 | Tomasz Stańko". Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  14. ^ "Astigmatic | Jazz Forum". Retrieved July 20, 2016.