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This was the tremendous flexibility of the bandin that it was simultaneously capable of so much. A single song could contain the brash dissonance of the avant-garde, the evocative feeling of Italian film music, the spacey quality of the European scene, the up-tempo bop of classic jazz, the dense beauty of classicism... This was a band with near unlimited potential.
From left: Tomasz Stańko, Mark Helias
Stańko seemed to know it, too. All night long, he smiled and nodded as the other players stretched out across tunes that he has played many times with many different players. It all sounded new. And at one point, as all three New Yorkers soloed over one of his tunes while he stayed back, he looked positively ecstatic as they took the music in new and unrelentingly fresh directions. This quartet fit together into one of the showstoppers of Vision Fest. They were so unexpected, so fresh, and so good.
In the past, Stańko has been quoted as saying that he's never stopped playing the same song in all his years of playing. Indeed, regardless of style or time, so much of his music seems to be the pure, personal sound hidden somewhere within his breath. Even still, it's truly remarkable how new the same song can be, when complemented by likeminded masters who bring their own rich songs to play in unison.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.