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Interviews

Tomasz Stanko: A Mix of Two Extremes

By Published: June 14, 2004

AAJ: What is your opinion about your current band - Simple Acoustic Trio?

TS: Those guys (Marcin Wasilewski - p, Slawomir Kurkiewicz - double bass, Michal Miskiewicz - dr) are extraordinary. In entire history of Polish Jazz we have never had anything like that before. Yes, there was Gucio Dylag in 1960s but he was an exception from the rule'. I believe that the boys are getting better every day. I do have to admit that I'm being surprised by them every day - they re just a great artists, super proficient musicians - the real pros.

AAJ: What are your inspirations?

TS: I love improvised art. In literature it's definitely William Faulkner with his melodic and full of improvisation narration. Similarly, in the spirit of jazz improvisation, I read James Joyce. William S. Burroughs - I just need to have his book around, sometimes I just need this one page'I've always liked to live on the edge, desperado'Among the painters they are mainly impressionists: Chaim Soutine, Modigliani'Recently before I go to sleep I need to browse through album with works by Van Gogh. I have always been fascinated with the art of the motion pictures; I enjoy hiking in the mountains, jogging, yoga'

AAJ: What about the drugs?

TS: As Jimi Hendrix once said: "Drugs are for adolescents." Perhaps it took me a while but I am not a kid anymore.

AAJ: What do you think about today's music, not necessary jazz-oriented?

TS: I find the music of "hip-hop" to be a very interesting one; I'm especially enjoying its particular relation to the time, specifically its continuity. And of course its physical aspect, physicality of the body on the move, trans, precision in inequalities'Unfortunately I am missing its entire socio-political aspect but I've always been digging the instrumental music much better. The way hip hop uses the rhythms is especially appealing to me. I also like what I hear from Scandinavia, all so call "nu" jazz, particularly what's coming from Bugge Wesseltoft.

AAJ: And what do you think about remixes of old jazz tunes by contemporary DJs?

TS: No doubt about it - I like it. Who knows, perhaps one day all music will be just one super mix done by visionary DJ? Not "artsy" enough? Well, look at simplicity of ragtime music and see where it has progressed straight to Coltrane. Today, if I walk on the sidewalk and have Mahler's symphony going through my mind then on can seat and write everything down then add a little bid of Africa, a little bid of Europe and mix it together. Why I don't do it? Because we do not have good producers! Actually I use similar "technique" when I compose music for motion pictures. We start by recording all the tracks one by one and then I seat, "cut" the tape and mix all ingredients. At the end something of a kind not seen before is born - a new music.

AAJ: So, you do not subscribe to the thesis that jazz as an art form is dead?

TS: BS! In art everything flows, everything continues. A new and great improvisers will always be here and there will be always improvised music because life is stronger then death. Did Baroque died with Bach? Did Romanticism ended when Mahler passed away? In music as in life everything evaluates and changes from one day to another but the tradition last forever. The tradition never dies, it's always being handed down, and it's with you all the time.

AAJ: What are your expectations before your North American tour in June 2004?

TS:: This is a very intense and overwhelming tour - 11 clubs in 15 days, two sets every evening. I don't do that type of tours anymore. But, that's how you play in the US. Even Coltrane, when at Village Vanguard, he played three sets a night, seven days a week. Sometimes I wonder: perhaps this is a "mystery" of superior quality and craftsmanship of American jazz musicians? Those guys just play a lot.

AAJ: Dear Tomasz, thank you very much for the opportunity to talk to you and I am looking forward to see you next months at Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles. Remembering your sold-out tour in the US two years ago I better call Ruth today so I get my reservation going now!



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