Friday, September 21, 2012

Tomasz Stanko - Fish Face (1974)

Tomasz Stańko - trumpet

Stu Martin - drums, ECM synhi
Janusz Stefański - drums

Fish Face (1974)

What can I say? Well, that I am simply out of my words! I assume this session is very, very little known in Poland not to mention other countries. It was released in limited circulation, only for members of PSJ (Polish Jazz Association) Record Club. I know it sounds crazy but you should be aware that up to 1989 Poland was governed by communists and we had the Moon economy here. In this kind of economy little mattered that the product was in demand. Much more important was whether it went along with the Party line. And jazz seldom was seen as consistent with this line. Despite these obstacles (or paradoxically thanks to them?) jazz was flourishing in those times...

Was it miracle? Perhaps but I am rather inclined first to investigate rational reasons and I found them in the mighty individuals which dominated the beginnings of Polish Jazz. First to mention is Krzysztof Komeda. But he is closely followed by Tomasz Stańko who was a member of famous Komeda quintet. After Komeda's untimely death Stańko felt kind of forced to create his own band. He did it and paid hommage to his mentor and friend with his first record "Music For K" (1970). But this hommage was paid in a very unexpected way since he proposed music totally different in form than that which they played together with Komeda. Stańko pushed Polish jazz toward what is free, experimenting and searching in this music. The consequences of such his resolution are felt even now since jazz music in Poland is much more open to these freer forms of jazz than in other countries.

Going back to music it owes a lot of as much to Stańko as to his partners. He is backed by two drummers: Janusz Stefański and Stu Martin who however mainly plays on synthetizer(s). Drums and synth co-work in a percussive manner and make music stomping, thudding and rumbling. It gives me impression of some kind of extraterrestial ship which upon landing on planet Earth tries to establish contact with locals by emitting very unusual sounds. If somebody listened before to the recordings of Miles Davis of that era (like for example "Bitches Brew") he will immadietely recognize similar patterns in both these languages. It's trance-like, it's psychodelic, it's spiritual, it's simply music of the highest calibre!

By Maciej Nowotny

1. Fish Face [18:45]
2. Fat Belly Ellie [07:06]
3. Mike Spike [12:57]

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