17.07.2022 | Artist

Tomasz Stanko at 80

Today, Tomasz Stanko would have celebrated his 80th birthday.

The innovative Polish trumpeter first came to international attention in the early 1960s as a member of Krzysztof Komeda’s group. Stanko would later reflect on this creative formative period on his album Litania. Tomasz Stanko’s ECM debut was Balladyna with Tomasz Szukalski on tenor sax, Dave Holland on bass and Edward Vesala on drums. Today the album stands as a classic of European jazz. Like his early hero Miles Davis, Stanko was a discerning bandleader and each of his groups had its own distinct character. Matka Joanna and Leosia, with Bobo Stenson, Anders Jormin and Tony Oxley balanced lyricism and turbulent free play. The band on From The Green Hill –featuring Stanko, John Surman, Dino Saluzzi and classical violinist Michelle Makarski – grew out of an experimental session at an ECM festival in Badenweiler. Soul of Things introduced the world at large to the talents of Marcin Wasilewski, Slawomir Kurkiewicz and Michal Miskiewicz, and on Suspended Night and Lontano, one could hear their improvisational capacities opening up under Stanko’s guidance. Dark Eyes pooled the talents of young improvisers from the North, with two Danes (Jakob Bro and Anders Christensen) and two Finns (Alexi Tuomarila and Olavi Louhivuori). By the early 2000s, Stanko was splitting his time between New York and Warsaw, subsequently founding a New York Quartet, notably free of native New Yorkers, for the album Wisława with Cuban born pianist David Virelles, Detroit drummer Gerald Cleaver, and Californian bassist Thomas Morgan, replaced on December Avenue by Reuben Rogers from the Virgin Islands. In all of his groups Tomasz encouraged freedom of expression and derived great pleasure from the creative contributions of his musicians. A European player who made a lasting contribution to international improvisation.

In light of this anniversary and the significance of the trumpeter’s contribution to jazz, a number of events are scheduled throughout the second half of 2022 in his honour.

Today, Stanko’s long-time collaborators, the Marcin Wasilewski Trio are welcoming Nils Petter Molvaer on stage to perform Stanko’s music in Warsaw.This will be followed by a large-scale celebration in New York on September 18th, where several line-ups from various Stanko eras will be playing sets at the Roulette Theatre. Celebrations will continue at London Jazz Festival on November 16th. Also, the English translation of Tomasz Stanko’s memoir “Desperado” will be published by Equinox in the near term.
Further details on these and other events to follow soon.