So ridiculously gorgeous this tribute to Stańko (1942-2018). One word, One vision. One artistic truth.
What springs to mind? Spontaneously. I think of hearing the trumpeter-composer-bandleader-auteur in Philharmonic Hall, Warsaw playing a tribute to Miles who had just died; in his flat drinking strong tea a few months later on Rozbrat near the Vistula with his trumpet miked up to an amp and playing along to Cecil Taylor records on his hi-fi; in student club Remont-Riviera on a freezing night with blind pianist Janusz Skowron on a synth launching a beautiful tribute inspired by Stańko's young daughter, later his manager; then I'm transported back stage to the cavernous Sala Kongresowa near the Akwarium club and home at the time to Jazz Jamboree, Stalin's gift to the ''grateful'' Polish nation, talking to Don Cherry after a soundcheck when he and Ornette were in town Cherry looking for his pal who was like it was pretty clear a brother from a different mother.
Later then a few years on in London when Stańko's wilderness years were over circa Litania in a very decent Indian restaurant in Swiss Cottage chatting with him and Belonging band double bassist Palle Danielsson minutes after Stańko caused his handlers a little grief by rejecting his hotel room and the hotel staff had to scramble to get him another; speaking on the phone about a mouthpiece he wanted to buy and that he had asked me to find out about; in Brighton on the seafront looking up to pictures at an exhibition; in Bath him climbing out of a tour bus not wanting to be helped when he looked a bit fragile.
I never saw him again in the flesh after hearing him in the Pavilion in 2006 not long after my poor father died but spoke to him a few times on the phone when he had a new record out talking about Wisława Szymborska who he had collaborated with and Bruno Schulz and Stańko's joy at his new life in New York visiting art galleries and hanging with the cats at the clubs. He called musicians cats. He was enthusing a lot about Gerald Cleaver I seem to recall and Jim Black. The first time I ever met Stańko his eyes lit up as he talked about Clifford Brown and Miles.
If you are new to his sound start with Komeda's Astigmatic, and then go Bluish, Leosia and of course the marvellous Dark Eyes that Bro is on. 'So Nice' on that record is dreamland even more so than the live bootleg versions on the net.
Listening 'To Stanko' from the guitar-trumpet-drums Danish-Norwegian-Catalan trio of Jakob Bro, Arve Henriksen and Jorge Rossy transports me. Firstly before all the thoughts of the above I turned to some of his favourite poetry and the transgressive pages of the Comte de Lautréamont's Poésies I (1870). ''I replace melancholy by courage, doubt by certainty, despair by hope, malice by good, complaints by duty, scepticism by faith, sophisms by cool equanimity and pride by modesty.''
The Bro 3 distil the Stańko vision on the track leading off Uma Elmo out next month on ECM and conjure with it. Arve Henriksen is perfect casting for his bespoke fragility and as for Rossy it is scary on the one hand how anyone into the peerless warts-and-all art of the trio period in the Brad Mehldau sound when Brad was truly in his pomp misses all that and on the other how to recognise how world class Rossy, in the Motian mind's eye, continues to be. Recorded in a Lugano radio studio the upcoming album also includes 'Music for Black Pigeons,' the title given to Bro by Lee Konitz. If there isn't a stampede for this record it will be a mystery. Stephen Graham
Tomasz Stańko, top. Photo: Universal Polska