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Tomasz Stanko New York Quartet

05 Apr

Mühlendamm 4 28857 Syke

Beginn Do, 15.12.16 09:23

Zeitangaben in MEZ




In the three years since Tomasz Stanko’s “Soul of Things” was recorded in August 2001, the veteran Polish trumpeter and his young band have toured widely on both sides of the Atlantic, honing an already exceptional group understanding. In their newest work, the improvisational quotient in the music is expanded, as all participants take more solo space, and more chances, without sacrificing the deeply-felt melodic sense that is part of the quartet’s identity. “Suspended Night”, recorded in 2003, gives an index of current directions.

Pianist Marcin Wasilewski, and bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz were 18 and drummer Michal Miskiewicz only 16 when Stanko took them under his wing in 1994. They quickly developed into his band of choice for all Polish engagements, working with him on theatre and film music initially. Pianist, bassist and drummer have also built up a reputation as a unit in their own right, working under the name Simple Acoustic Trio, which has meanwhile become one of Poland’s most popular bands. Their first commitment, however, is to Stanko, who meanwhile has brought them to international attention.

“He is our country’s greatest jazz musician,“ says Marcin Wasilewski. “He plays with us and helps us develop. He helped me find a voice.” Alyn Shipton observed in The Times that “Stanko’s rapport with Wasilewski is uncanny, with the two of them sliding almost seamlessly between passages of intricately composed melody to free improvisation over the modal vamps favoured in the writing.”

As for Stanko himself (born in Rzeszow, in 1942) there is universal agreement that he is playing at the peak of his powers. One of the authentic figures of European jazz, a great original, Stanko’s reputation has been secure for decades. Nonetheless, his control has never been greater than it is today…

His ECM discs, beginning with “Balladyna” in 1975, have been distinguished by a remarkably sustained creative level. In the 1990s, however, Stanko’s work reached a new level of public recognition through recordings such as “Litania”, his tribute to film music composer and former employer Krzysztof Komeda, featuring a pan-Scandinavian band, and “From the Green Hill” – with Dino Saluzzi, John Surman, Michelle Makarski, and Jon Christensen - which won the German Critics Prize as Album Of The Year in 2000.

In 2002, Stanko also won the first European Jazz Prize, a major new award initiated by the Austrian Government and the City of Vienna. From the jury’s citation: “While Stanko has obviously drawn on American models, he has developed a unique sound and personal music that is instantly recognizable and unmistakably his own, rooted in his Slavic heritage, romantic upbringing and classical education, which he received in Cracow before starting a jazz career in the early ‘60s. His distinctive rough tone conveys a sense of drama, melancholy, sadness and existential pain. A free-jazz pioneer, he went on to become one of the finest trumpeters, a world-class player, a stylist, a charismatic performer and original composer, his music now assuming simplicity of form and mellowness that comes with years of work, exploration and experience. Tomasz Stanko – a true master and leader of European jazz.”

Stanko’s very distinct sound on trumpet reflects the influences of Fats Navarro, Booker Little, and Don Cherry, and especially Chet Baker and Miles Davis (who, in Stanko’s words, “was my guru until his very end”).

“Stanko evokes the spirits of the finest trumpeters dead and living while creating a mood and a voice uniquely his own,” wrote Richard Lehnert in Stereophile magazine. “Yes, you can hear the influences of Miles Davis and Chet Baker at their most introspective and profound, as well as hotter, more rasping traces of Lee Morgan and Clifford Brown… His album ‘Soul of Things’ stands shoulder to hiply-slumped shoulder with ‘Kind of Blue’, and has an even better sound.“

Concurrently with “Suspended Night”, issued in January 2004, Stanko released an anthology album in ECM’s Rarum series, tracing his work for the label since the 70s. In his liner notes, Stanko talks of the unified nature of his compositions, from the beginning until now, and their range of expression: “From chaos to order, from fury to lyricism.” … .

“Free” playing has been a characteristic of Stanko’s bands since his earliest days as a professional musician. His 1962 group the Jazz Darings, which took its cue from the pre-Atlantic recordings of Ornette Coleman, is held by some historians to have been the first “free jazz” group in Europe. In the 70s, the quartet he co-led with Finnish drummer Edward Vesala left a trail of fine albums in its wake and persuasively redefined notions of “free ballad” playing. In the 80s he experimented with electro-acoustic music in the Freelectronic group with Tadeusz Sudnik and was twice invited by Cecil Taylor to participate in his eruptive large ensembles, documented on recordings for Soul Note and FMP. And work in the 1990s focussed largely around a quartet with Tony Oxley, Bobo Stenson and Anders Jormin, which again emphasised free improvisation, alongside tunes of often stark simplicity.

His current Polish group has more of an “in-the-tradition” feel, and there is plenty of the Slavic melancholy that immediately identifies his compositions. The “Polish blues”, Stanko sometimes calls it. But he is adamant that his often touching tunes are “good for nothing in themselves! All they are good for is to inspire the process of improvising.” If Stanko’s “predatory lyricism” has the upper hand in the pieces played by the current quartet, all the musicians understand the importance of creative tension, and the leader’s darting phrasing always takes unex

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Jazz Folk Klassik in Syke e.V., Schnepker Straße 8, 28857, Syke, Deutschland

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