As the thaw era unfolded in the 1950s and 60s and jazz began to bloom in Poland with an intensity unmatched in other Eastern European countries, many filmmakers also became quickly enamored of the new music. These included Roman Polanski, who, while still a student at the Film Academy in Lodz, collaborated with a rising star of the Polish jazz scene, Krzysztof Komeda, on some of the short films he realized between 1958 and 1962, such as “Two Men and the Wardrobe” (1958) and “Mammals” (1962). Komeda’s appearance at the newly founded Sopot music festival marked the birth of Polski Jazz. Komeda’s tunes, at once exuberantly buoyant, coyly lyrical, and melancholy, set the mood for the at times surreal and unsettling worlds of Polanski’s early work, which, like Komeda’s music, is itself capable of casually walking the fine line between the bleak and the comic. Their creative partnership would last many years: Komeda’s music remained a significant part of Polanski’s cinema through “Rosemary’s Baby”, up until the composer’s untimely death.
Consisting of multi-instrumentalists Paweł Szamburski and Patryk Zakrocki, Duo SzaZa explores the legacy of Komeda and Polanski, with clarinets, violin, loopers, and interaction with the audience. With an interest in opposites, and their transcendence and suspension, and the objective of liberating both stage and audience from expectations, the two musicians meld noise and silence, discipline and empty-mindedness, in their approach to performance, relocating Polanski’s short films in time in a radically new manner.