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]

Richard Cook and Brian Morton name it as "one of the finest jazz albums ever made in Europe" and include it among the 1001 best jazz records in their book The Penguin Jazz Guide.[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".[7] Manfred Eicher, the founder of ECM Records, described it as a milestone in the history of jazz.[8]

Writing about the 2016 reissue, FACT Magazine author Mikey IQ Jones stated that "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".[9]

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.[10]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by Krzysztof Komeda.[2][11]

Side A
Side B


Komeda Quintet[edit]

Additional personnel[edit]


  1. ^ a b "KRZYSZTOF KOMEDA – "Astigmatic"" (in Polish). 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. ^ "Krzysztof Komeda – What the critics say". Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  8. ^ Subbotko, Donata. "Żółty mustang Krzysia – wywiad z żoną Krzysztofa Komedy". Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  9. ^ "Delia Derbyshire, Larry Levan and Tony Conrad: The month's best reissues and retrospectives". Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  10. ^ Rerak, Sebastian (2012). Chłepcąc ciekły hel – Historia yassu. Gdynia: AKuKu Sztuka. p. 272. ISBN 978-83-925374-1-0.
  11. ^ "Astigmatic Polish Jazz Vol. 5 | Tomasz Stańko". Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  12. ^ "Astigmatic | Jazz Forum". Retrieved July 20, 2016.