Tomasz Stanko - Far Off

Blues-drenched, free jazz legend Tomasz Stanko knows Ornette’s Coleman’s tune ‘Lonely Woman’ like some people know Lennon and McCartney’s’ ‘Let It Be’. For him it’s the kind of music that is key to his interior musical soundtrack. Over the years he has led his own bands in Poland, influenced initially heavily by the man from Fort Worth. But Stanko importantly became a member of pianist/composer Krzysztof Komeda’s group and later in his career worked extensively with the distinguished Finnish drummer Edward Vesala, as well as working as a sideman with Cecil Taylor, Gary Peacock and most recently Manu Katché. Stanko’s own groups have varied in their complexion, sometimes very austere, sometimes accessible with bossa nova and modal flavours. Next month his current quartet releases its third album. Ahead of its release, Stanko talks to Stephen Graham Tomasz Stanko - Far Off
Kraków, Roman Polanski and Krzysztof Komeda are all linked intrinsically to the music of trumpeter Tomasz Stanko. The city, the film director and the composer have all left their mark on the 63-year-old who is all set to release his latest album, Lontano and tour it across the US in the autumn.

Although born in Rzeszow, south east Poland, he made his name in Kraków. Stanko owes most to the cosmopolitan tortured soul of Kraków, devastated by the 1939-45 war, the murdering of its Jewish population, and subsequent flowering of artistic areas after the war. Many artists who would otherwise have developed careers as painters or sculptors after the war instead turned to film making and moved to the nascent film school not far away in Lodz. Film director Andrzej Wajda was one student of the fine arts to make the move towards film. Famous internationally for films such as Kanal he has written about how he and others wished to represent their art by learning how to make films rather than remain as painters.

This was one consequence for the Kraków artistic community of the terrible carnage caused by the war. Roman Polanski, an actor before he became known as a director, was encouraged by Wajda and he too went to film school in Lodz, acting in small parts and then learning to direct. Stephen Graham