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Enrico Rava and Tomasz Stanko: Elective Affinities

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ER: You were playing with Krzysztof Komeda. It was quite peculiar because we followed two very different, yet quite parallel, paths and we both ended up recording for ECM.

TS: Yes, but that was a few years later.

ER: I did it first, in 1975, with John Abercrombie and Palle Danielsson. I remember when I listened to your first CD for ECM, Balladyna, I thought "Wow! I want to meet Tomasz Stanko!."

TS: Then we both played with Cecil Taylor and his Two Continents Orchestra.

ER: Yes. That was heavy. And it was fun, because Cecil idea was so over the top. But it was also quite expensive, in all senses. The contract included a clause stating that "all expenses" would be covered. And boy, did he take that clause literally! On the last night of the tour, in Koln, Germany, he threw a lavish party in the suite of Hotel Dom, with tons of caviar and champagne, and he kept calling friends in New York from the suite's phone line, just to say hi... I noticed his manager, Gabi Kleinschmidt, sitting in a corner of the suite. I asked her why she was crying. She answered: "because I will have to pay for all this!." It was a very tiring tour, wasn't it?

TS: Yes, it was very hard. And it was marred by that awful accident at the beginning of the tour, in Milan.

ER: That was terrible. We were collecting our things when I heard Gunter Hampel scream "Watch Out!." I Looked up right when some of the venue's spot-lights fell down and hit the singer on her head. She was the girlfriend of the drummer. Her name escapes me now. She had to go to the hospital and her boyfriend stayed behind with her and did not continue the tour. It certainly was terrifying. You moved to New York sometime after that tour...

TS: I moved to New York in 2008. You had lived there much earlier...

ER: I moved there in 1967 and stayed for ten years. I played in several bands. With Roswell Rudd, Steve Lacy... Then I had my own band with John Abercrombie. You know how easy playing in New York can be sometimes. Despite all that, however, I was not having an easy time in New York, but fortunately, in 1975, I started recording for ECM... That allowed me to tour in Europe and my life changed completely.

TS: I had already been recording for Polish labels before ECM changed my path. I was working with Edward Vesala, who was in touch with Manfred Eicher, through Jan Garbarek. I met Manfred and things unfolded from there. How was it for you?

ER: I released my first album [Katcharpari] in 1973, for the MPS label. It featured John Abercrombie, Chip White and Bruce Johnson. It was very well received and even won some prizes, in Germany. The following year, Manfred contacted me when he came to New York because he had really liked that album. So we met and got to know each-other. He invited me to record for ECM. So I did a European tour with Palle Danielsson, Jon Christensen and John Abercrombie and then we recorded in Ludswigsburg, at Tonstudio Bauer...

TS: I also recorded at Tonstudio Bauer. I went there for my first ECM album, Balladyna.

ER: That may still be my favorite recording space. It feels like you're recording in a cathedral. It has very high ceilings and so you get a very natural reverb and you can record without wearing headphones. In addition, they have a great engineer, Martin Wieland.

TS: That's true. I also like the Rainbow, the old Oslo recording studio.

ER: Everybody loves that studio. I recorded my second album, The Plot, at the Talent Studio in Oslo, where the Rainbow Studio engineer, Jan Erik Kongshaug, was working at the time. I don't have fond memories of that experience. I didn't feel good, maybe because it was so cold outside... and it was quite small. So I much prefer Tonstudio Bauer. Where have you been recording your recent albums for ECM?

TS: Now I record in Avignon, France, with the great engineer Gérard de Haro.

ER: For a few years I have been recording at Artesuono, in Cavalicco, neard Udine, Italy. I love that studio because I feel so comfortable there. But let's now talk about our tour. How do you feel about it?

TS: The tour is going very well. We have a great rhythm section, nice concerts, but also some time to relax in between.

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