Krystyna Stańko - vocals
Dominik Bukowski - vibraphone, marimba, kalimba
Piotr Lemańczyk - bass
Marcin Wądołowski - guitar
Marcin Gawdzis - trumpet
Łukasz Żyta - drums
Zé Luis Nascimento - drums, percussion
FOR TUNE 0113
By Adam Baruch
This is the eighth album by Polish Jazz vocalist Krystyna Stańko, recorded with her regular wonderful Baltic crew which includes vibraphonist Dominik Bukowski, guitarist Marcin Wądołowski, bassist Piotr Lemańczyk and guest Brazilian drummer/percussionist Ze Luis Nascimento. Trumpeter Marcin Gawdzis guests on two tracks and drummer Łukasz Żyta on three tracks. Together they perform eleven songs (one is repeated twice), six of which were composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim, and the rest by different composers like Chick Corea, Mongo Santamaria and others, all with a distinct samba and bossa nova character. All the songs use English lyrics.
This album marks a significant diversion in Stańko's career, which is usually focused on singing original material composed by her or her band members. When I visited her in Gdańsk three months ago, not long after this album was recorded, she told me that this was a conscious decision to create an album which could be enjoyed by a much wider audience than her previous recordings, without compromising the artistic and aesthetic values. There is no doubt that she and her band managed to do just that.
The album includes mostly very well known songs, which have been previously recorded many times by artists all over the world. This album offers however a slightly different approach, with the instrumental arrangements being much more Jazzy than similar efforts. The presence of Bukowski adds another dimension, normally not present on such recordings and the brilliant bass playing by Lemańczyk firmly places these interpretation within the Jazz idiom rather that the usual Pop or easy Jazz genre. Wądołowski adds some beautiful guitar parts, which are also quite different from the standard guitar parts used on samba albums and so does Gawdzis, albeit briefly. Of course having a Brazilian drummer/percussionist on boards ensures that rhythmically everything works perfectly.
Stańko's deep sensual voice is of course ideally suited for these songs, and her vocal theatrics fit the bill perfectly. Although her pronunciation is not exactly "perfect" English, it is not significant as these songs have been sung in English by Jobim himself, Astrud Gilberto and countless other non-native English speaking vocalist and a slightly foreign accent in this case is perhaps an asset rather than a weakness. Stańko of course has the perfect feel needed to perform these songs and does it with obvious passion and love. She uses superb vocalese parts in addition to the lyrics, which are truly delightful. For me the most touching song of the album is the intimate trio which finds Stanko supported just by vibraphone and bass, which is perfection itself. Stańko respectfully leaves a lot of space for instrumental parts, which is most appropriate.
If this album will bring Stańko to a wider public attention, it will serve its purpose ideally. She deserves to be heard and adored by everybody as much as I do adore her, regardless what she does, not because she is my friend, but because she is a true Artist and a wonderful human being. Well done Krystyna, Dear!