Stańko's Horn Hymnals Hamstrung By Candy-Coated Symphonics At NFM, Wrocław

Stanko HI res fot Karol Sokolowski 025

A grand occasion for a towering figure in Polish music. Tomasz Stańko has founding father status as one of the post-war players who fostered the significant growth of jazz in the Eastern European country whose scene has since seen the emergence of several other feted champions. Fittingly, the 75-year-old trumpeter leads a quartet comprising musicians half his age, but the other major selling point of the gig is the presence of the NFM Philharmonic Orchestra, arranged and conducted by Krzysztof Herdzin.

Those with long memories will know that Stańko worked with the pioneering Globe Unity Orchestra back in the 1970s, and that he has always shifted astutely between post-bop and avant-garde pathways. Hence the prospect of hearing his broad, at times brash, at times plaintive tone cast against a stage full of strings and horns is mouth-watering. The majesty Stańko has often been able to evoke in his vast discography, above all on highlights such as 1976's Fish Face and 1999's Litania, his urbane take on the music of Krzystof Komeda, the iconic, enduringly influential composer with whom he worked in the 1960s, should lend itself well to such a dignified setting.

Stanko HI res fot Karol Sokolowski 022

So it proves intermittently. Backed by drummer, Michal Miskiewicz, double-bassist Slamowir Kurkiewicz and pianist Dominik Wania, Stańko, a master of what he himself termed the 'heavy ballad', projects commandingly in the 1,800 capacity concert hall, which is sold out, and the airy, swish strains provided by the orchestra serve to heighten that, bringing out the precise, dry crackle of his brass all the more. While the mysterioso, sombre grace of Ascenseur-era Miles is part of his vocabulary Stańko has a hard, if not austere turn of phrase that is utterly gripping at times. The set-list comprises excellent material from recent works with his New York Quartet such as 'Dernier Cri' and 'Wislawa', which the band negotiates well, handling the buoyant swing and lithe, looser, more metrically open passages with a deft touch. Pianist Wania takes fine solos on which his harmonic finesse is matched by carefully channelled rhythmic drive from bassist Kurkiewicz and drummer Miskiewicz.

Sadly, there is a major problem with the arrangements. The horns are mostly underused, and the biggest disappointment is the inappropriately saccharine preludes and interludes on some pieces that stray far from the innate character of the band, to the extent that when the quartet is left alone without the orchestra the performance is enhanced rather than impoverished. The rest of the set has some beautiful melodies – 'The Street Of Crocodiles', 'Oni', 'April Story' – but the sense of imbalance between the orchestra and the band is a shame, given the potential of the meeting on paper.

Having said that, Stańko, radiating charisma in a bright red beret and slick dark suit, plays too lyrically for the concert not to engage a highly responsive and openly appreciative audience. Last year I was lucky enough to see him play with his New York quartet at Gateshead and the performance, marked by superb interplay and probing improvisations, was brilliant. This Polish band is also excellent, but the question is, how can a soloist of Stanko's immense stature be most adequately served in an orchestral setting in one of the best concert halls in the world? There are hints of an answer tonight, but the enquiry on 'Stańko symfonicznie' shouldn't stop here.

– Kevin Le Gendre
– Photos by Karol Sokołowski

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Jazz FM sold to Bauer Media Group

Jazz FM sold to Bauer Media Group

Jazz FM, which is broadcast nationally on DAB and recently...

Read More.....
Musson, Kjær and Marshall set for Iklectik date this weekend

Musson, Kjær and Marshall set for Iklect…

Three of the key figures on London's improv scene –...

Read More.....
Say A Little Prayer: Aretha Franklin 25/03/42 – 16/08/18

Say A Little Prayer: Aretha Franklin 25/…

  As far as monikers go, 'Lady Soul' may well have...

Read More.....
'A Great Day in Harlem' celebrates 60th anniversary

'A Great Day in Harlem' celebrates 60th …

Photographer Art Kane's legendary jazz photograph 'Harlem – 1958', commonly...

Read More.....
Zara McFarlane and Ayanna Witter Johnson for Kinch’s Flyover Show

Zara McFarlane and Ayanna Witter Johnson…

Soweto Kinch's free one-day arts festival, The Flyover Show, returns...

Read More.....
Steely Dan tributes and basses high at Sligo Jazz Project

Steely Dan tributes and basses high at S…

In a week of outstanding musical offerings in Sligo, perhaps...

Read More.....
Maria Schneider and Ensemble Denada meld mystery and drama with McCaslin at Molde

Maria Schneider and Ensemble Denada meld…

  Molde might be a small coastal town in western Norway...

Read More.....
John Zorn's Simulacrum project rewrite radical organ trio template at Jazz em Agosto

John Zorn's Simulacrum project rewrite r…

King Crimson and tech-death titans such as Cynic and Atheist...

Read More.....
Ron Davis lines up with Seonaid Aitken for SymphRONica Scottish sojourn

Ron Davis lines up with Seonaid Aitken f…

Canadian pianist Ron Davis (above left) has enlisted the Scottish...

Read More.....
Christian McBride’s New Jawn and Chick Corea Akoustic Trio create magic in Malta

Christian McBride’s New Jawn and Chick C…

If Valletta's sun-baked limestone is a constant reminder of Malta's...

Read More.....
Tomasz Stańko – 11 July 1942 – 29 July 2018

Tomasz Stańko – 11 July 1942 – 29 July 2…

In 2002, the Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko provided an answer...

Read More.....
Steve Coleman & Five Elements floor all comers with Mayweather-style beat magic

Steve Coleman & Five Elements floor …

They say that writing about music is like dancing about...

Read More.....
Archie Shepp, Herbie Hancock and Tuba Titans kick out the cool at Montreal Jazz Festival

Archie Shepp, Herbie Hancock and Tuba Ti…

Canadians are patronisingly characterised in the US as 'over-polite' but...

Read More.....
Wayne Shorter enters the multiverse with album and graphic novel

Wayne Shorter enters the multiverse with…

Iconic saxophonist Wayne Shorter is set to make a dramatic...

Read More.....
Nérija alumni illuminate Jazz Re:fest's Brighton Dome bonanza

Nérija alumni illuminate Jazz Re:fest's …

  Day-trippers pour out of the trains in their hundreds, heading...

Read More.....
Brötzmann Cocked To Blast At Third Brighton Alt Bash

Brötzmann Cocked To Blast At Third Brigh…

The south coast's premier experimental music symposium – the Brighton...

Read More.....
Szun Waves launch New Hymn To Freedom with live dates

Szun Waves launch New Hymn To Freedom wi…

Electronica jazz trio Szun Waves release their second album, New...

Read More.....
Donny McCaslin’s big Blow set for Scala

Donny McCaslin’s big Blow set for Scala

US saxophonist Donny McCaslin follows the breakthrough success of 2016's...

Read More.....
PRS Foundation Momentum Music Fund now open for applications

PRS Foundation Momentum Music Fund now o…

The PRS Foundation's Momentum Music Fund has helped the likes...

Read More.....
Beats & Pieces Big Band launch Ten with video and tour

Beats & Pieces Big Band launch Ten w…

Manchester's mighty Beats & Pieces Big Band continue their yearlong...

Read More.....
Robert Glasper leads R+R=NOW for stormy Celebrate Brooklyn blow-out

Robert Glasper leads R+R=NOW for stormy …

The history of collectives in jazz are nearly as old...

Read More.....
Are you ready for the Write Stuff? 2018 Applications Now Open

Are you ready for the Write Stuff? 2018 …

Budding music writers listen up! This year's Write Stuff music...

Read More.....
John Coltrane’s The Lost Album: Both Directions at Once hits Top 20 Albums

John Coltrane’s The Lost Album: Both Dir…

Last week's release of John Coltrane's The Lost Album: Both...

Read More.....
Boogie at the Bandstand - Love Supreme's festival within a festival

Boogie at the Bandstand - Love Supreme's…

With an abundance of big names on the larger stages...

Read More.....
Keyon Harrold, Vijay Iyer and EXPO Commissions for 40th Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Fest

Keyon Harrold, Vijay Iyer and EXPO Commi…

The 40th edition of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival...

Read More.....
Roy Carr 1945 – 2018

Roy Carr 1945 – 2018

Doyen of the music press for half a century and...

Read More.....
Pharoah's Prophecies Pave Way For New Wave Of Spiritual Sentinels At This Year's Love Supreme

Pharoah's Prophecies Pave Way For New Wa…

"I've already had my mind blown once today," a geezerish...

Read More.....
Meshell Ndegeocello and The Bad Plus for Innervisions Fest at Under The Bridge

Meshell Ndegeocello and The Bad Plus for…

Chelsea music venue, Under the Bridge, will play host to...

Read More.....
Brockley Beer & Improv Sessions Brew Up New Series

Brockley Beer & Improv Sessions Brew…

Connoisseurs of craft ales and well-crafted extemporisation, rejoice! Another series of...

Read More.....
Archie Shepp, Phronesis, Kandace Springs and Kit Downes added to EFG London Jazz Festival

Archie Shepp, Phronesis, Kandace Springs…

The line-up for this year's EFG London Jazz Festival, which...

Read More.....
Wynton Marsalis Quartet open up to the spirit of Ornette at Barbican

Wynton Marsalis Quartet open up to the s…

Wynton Marsalis is more forward-thinking than he gets credit for...

Read More.....
Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas step up with Sound Prints at the Village vanguard

Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas step up with…

Joe Lovano remarked that "it was the end of an...

Read More.....
Jazz Women celebrated at Jazz Centre UK exhibition

Jazz Women celebrated at Jazz Centre UK …

Southend-on-Sea's Jazz Centre UK presents a major exhibition, Jazz Women...

Read More.....
Boggamasta boogie on down at Brussels Jazz Weekend

Boggamasta boogie on down at Brussels Ja…

The UK equivalent to the Brussels Jazz Weekend would be...

Read More.....
Orphy Robinson gets Gibraltar rocking beyond Borders

Orphy Robinson gets Gibraltar rocking be…

British vibes virtuoso Orphy Robinson is artist-in-residence at the year's...

Read More.....
Vijay Iyer Sextet and Julian Lage jive to Jazz Cafe

Vijay Iyer Sextet and Julian Lage jive t…

Having reopened its doors in January 2016, following a multi-million-pound...

Read More.....


Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

Jazz FM sold to Bauer Media Group https://t.co/AABGd8xVee https://t.co/LM7pm2Aw1E
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
That new Necks' album... when it goes all Jerry Lee Lewis... 😊🤡📞
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA