Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tomasz Stanko Quintet - Music For K (Polish Jazz Vol. 22, 1970)

Since I recently read the autobiography of Tomasz Stańko it seemed attractive to me to recall his discography as well, record after record. Some of them I possess and some of them I have to find so it looks like challenging task. Let me start with Music For K album recorded in January 1970 in Warsaw Philharmonia. It is first recording of Stańko famous quintet and his first as a leader as well because up to 1969 he was a member of legendary Komeda quartet and "felt no need to have his own band". But in 1968 Komeda left for Hollywood where he joined Polanski and hit the jackpot with music he composed for Polanski's  Rosemary's Baby. Unfortunately in 1969 Komeda died in result of the unfortunate accident and although he planned that Stanko should join him in the US nothing came out of those plans.

In such context in 1970 Stańko formed his first quintet and what often pass unnoticed that 3/5 of his quintet were previously part of Zbigniew Seifert Quartet. Seifert himself became a member of Stańko quintet and over the years he showed that he was one of few musicians in Polish jazz whose talent was of similar calibre to that of Stańko.

Beside Seifert, there were in quintet two more of his collaborators from abovementionaed quartet in persons of excellent drummer Janusz Stefański and bassist Jan Gonciarczyk. But Jan was soon to be replaced by Bronisław Suchanek, a very talented bassisst, around 20 at that time, who was rising star on Polish jazz scene and a member not only of Stanko group but also of very interesting Mieczysław Kosz Trio. The last member of the band was Janusz Muniak, tenor sax, another very significant and well recognized player on then Polish jazz scene. All this guys were extremely well educated, graduated from top Polish Music Academies and under the conscious and daring leadership it happened that they ventured in territory new not only in Polish but also in European jazz.

Here we come to music itself which this record contains and which still sounds fresh and is very inspiring. Though the album was dedicated to Komeda it has next to nothing in common with his musical idiom and is can be best described as free jazz. Keeping in mind how fresh phenomenon free jazz was at that time and especially in Europe one has to admire Stańko and his colleagues that despite the isolation imposed on them by communist goverment they were able not only to became part of European jazz avant-garde but in fact to be one of its leaders.

What is even more important but what became evident only in years to come, Stańko version of free jazz was very original because unlike many Amercican and European musicians he was always imposing some structure on his playing. His compositions though leaving a lot of space for improvisation still contained some simple tunes, sometimes simplified to maximum degree, but which constituted a thread for those less incilined toward free jazz that secured them from being lost in the maze of muscians' improvisations. This creative tension between form and formless is well known in Polish art and philosophy (see Polish philosopher Witkacy works to whom later Stańko referred directly on such disc as Peyotl for instance) and seems to me unique Stańko input into Polish jazz. But this record was just a beginning of what proved to be one the most interesting careers in world jazz.

Below 2nd song from this album title Infinitely Small:



Author of text: Maciej Nowotny
http://kochamjazz.blox.pl/html

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