JAZZ TRUMPETER, COMPOSER AND BANDLEADER
His trumpet’s unique sounds may be heard at the most prestigious venues throughout the world and on records produced and released by renowned, Munich-based ECM Records.
He debuted at the end of the 1950s in Krakow. Joachim Ernst Berendt considered him the first free-jazz trumpeter in Europe. In the 1960s Stańko joined Krzysztof Komeda’s quintet, soon became its main star, and recorded a masterpiece of European jazz, LP Astigmatic.
In the early 1970s, at the helm of Tomasz Stańko Quintet, he came to the forefront of the free jazz scene and was featured at major European festivals. His subsequent projects reinforced this stature: Unit with Polish pianist Adam Makowicz, and quartet co-led with Norwegian drummer Edward Vesalathat in 1975 attracted attention of ECM’s Manfred Eicher. Stańko’s ECM debut, Balladyna, became a legend on both sides of the Atlantic ocean. In the 1980s Stańko was enlisted by Cecil Taylor in his line-ups, and led his own C.O.C.X. and Free electronic bands that incorporated reggae, Latino, electronic, and rap inspirations.
The 1990s saw Stańko’s return to the jazz summit and another phase of his liaison with ECM label. His new quartet featuring pianist Bobo Stenson, bassist Anders Jormin, and drummer Tony Oxley was hailed as the best jazz group of the decade – a rare top rating of Leosia album in the Penguin Jazz Guide. Released in 1997 Litania, a tribute to the music of Krzysztof Komeda, became his first global bestseller. The subsequent Stańko’s ECM releases Soul of Things and Suspended Night, recorded with a young Polish quartet at the beginning of the new century, have brought him to the orbit of the American market, where he has been touring regularly ever since. In 2002 he was the winner of the European Jazz Prize awarded in Vienna, two years later in Poland he was honored with a high state decoration, the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Rebirth of Poland.
For eight years now Tomasz Stańko has been regularly ranked among the world’s top ten jazz trumpeters in the prestigious annual Down Beat Magazine poll. The same poll listed him among the world’s top jazz composers as well. Stańko as a leader has released 37 albums, has also composed music for numerous films and theatrical productions. He is a NYC Manhattan resident since 2008. His previous CD, Dark Eyes, was recorded in 2009 with a new quintet of young Scandinavian talent. He currently works with New York City musicians, such as Lee Konitz and Craig Taborn.
In 2010 in Poland Stańko’s autobiography Desperado was published and as quickly became a bestseller, much like records. In 2011 The Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest complex of museums and educational and research centers, published six-CD collection Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology, which is concluded with Tomasz Stańko’s composition Suspended Night Variation VIII, an honor bestowed on very few non-US artists. In the same year President of Poland Mr. Bronisław Komorowski awarded Tomasz Stańko Commander’s Cross with Star of the Order of Rebirth of Poland.
2013 brings a new album, Wisława. Like his early hero Miles Davis, Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko has a gift for forming great bands, and this one, formed in the world’s jazz capital, overflows with promise. The bass and drums team of Thomas Morgan and Gerald Cleaveris one of the most sensitive in contemporary improvising, and Cuban-born pianist David Virelles, inspired by ritual music as well as by The lonious Monk and Andrew Hill, seems particularly well-attuned to the brooding darkness and sophisticated dread of Stanko’s free ballads. In the uptempo pieces all four players seem to enter new territory, with very exciting results. The double-album program of new Stańko compositions is also inspired by the poetry of Wisława Symborska, the Polish poet, essayist and Nobel Prize winner, who died in 2012. As Stańko writes in the CD booklet, “Reading Wisława Szymborska’s words gave me many ideas and insights. Meeting her and interacting with her poetry also gave impetus to this music, which I would like to dedicate, respectfully, to her memory.”
At the beginning of 2014 Tomasz Stanko was honored with three prestigious awards: „KreatorKultury/The Culture Creator” the title awarded annually by the most influential Polish weekly „Polityka”, „Prix du MusicienEuropéen/The European Musician Prize” – awarded for the current and lifetime achievement by The French l’ Académie du Jazz; „Preis der DeutschenSchallplattenkritik/The German Record Critics’ Award” one of three annual honorary awards given by an independent association of more than 140 music journalists from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
At the invitation of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw Tomasz Stanko wrote Polin Suite, which was recorded by Tomasz Stanko (tp) and KushAbadey (dr), RaviColtrane (ts, ss), Dezron Douglas (b), David Virelles (p), released on CD by the Museum, and then performed at the opening ceremony of its permanent exhibition at the end of October 2014.