Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, a leading figure in mid-1960s European avant-garde jazz who enjoyed a major career resurgence over the past 20 years, died on July 29, 2018 in Warsaw. He was 76. His death was confirmed by his daughter, Anna Stanko, who said that her father had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in April of this year, and had been suffering with pneumonia since June.
Stanko is best known for his soaring, elusively beautiful albums for the ECM label, most recently with a coterie of groundbreaking younger musicians he called his New York Quartet. Particularly through the New York Quartet, Stanko in his later years built strong bonds with young American players on the cutting edge of the music.
His trumpet playing, once praised by New York Times critic Ben Ratliff for its “soothing melodic shapes interrupted by flutters and harder intervallic stabs,” had a sparse and often meditative quality not unlike his forebear Miles Davis. But his intensely concentrated lyricism owed as much to Don Cherry’s work in the classic Ornette Coleman quartet, one of his chief early influences. Stanko’s writing, spacious and enigmatic but also possessed of a deep and abiding sense of swing, had a catalyzing effect on experimentally-minded musicians such as pianist David Virelles and others, documented on the New York Quartet albums Wisława (2013) and December Avenue (2017). (by David R Adler)
To honor this great jazz musicians I would like to present an albnum from the Seventies:
This monumental album by Polish Jazz trumpeter / composer Tomasz Stanko in one of the most important releases on the legendary Polish Jazz series, which means it’s a truly stellar performance. It captures perfectly the soul of Stanko’s 1970s Free Jazz period, which culminated just a year later with the recording of the legendary “Balladyna” album for ECM, in almost identical lineup.
Similarly to his Mentor, Krzysztof Komeda, Stanko always tried to work with musicians from other countries, even when the bureaucracy of the Socialist regime made it quite difficult. Like Komeda before him, he worked with musicians from the neighbor Scandinavian countries, finding a close friend and partner in the free-spirited Finnish legendary drummer Edward Vesala. Young Polish saxophonist Tomasz Szukalski was given the position previously held by such giant musicians as Zbigniew Namyslowski and Michal Urbaniak, which testifies to Stanko’s high confidence in him. The quartet was completed by the great American bassist Peter Warren, who lived at the time in Europe and participated actively in the incredible European Jazz scene of that period.
The album includes five pieces, credited to all four musicians and obviously largely improvised, with some limited preconceived melody lines barely audible under the surface. The unedited, “live in the studio” recording perfectly reflects the atmosphere of the session, with Free blowing and intense interplays, enthusiastically encouraged by Vesala’s howls and cries in the background. This is definitely a magic moment, captured for posterity on this recording, which has very few parallels, and therefore is so incredibly important. Stanko’s fans will of course find plenty of his superb trumpet performances here, which are second to none. Any European Jazz connoisseur, Polish Jazz enthusiast or Stanko aficionado must absolutely have this album! (by Adam Baruch)
Alternate front + backcover
Tomasz Stańko (trumpet)
Tomasz Szukalski (saxophone, bass clarinet)
Edward Vesala (drums)
Peter Warren (bass)
01. Dark Awakening (Stańko/Vesala/Warren/Szukalski) 12.32
02. Twet (Stańko/Vesala/Warren/Szukalski) 7.08
03. Mintuu Maria (Stańko/Vesala/Warren/Szukalski) 5.17
04. Men Of The North (Stańko/Vesala/Warren/Szukalski) 10.23
05. Night Peace (Stańko/Vesala/Warren/Szukalski) 4.12
Tomasz Stańko (11 July 1942 – 29 July 2018)