April-19th-2010, 12:33 AM
Jazz trumpeter mourns death of Polish president
By Patrick Cole
Sunday, Apr. 18 2010
When jazz trumpeter Tomasz Stanko heard about the death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, he was preparing for a five-night run at Manhattan's Birdland
Stanko, the elder statesman of jazz in Poland, will dedicate his concerts to
the 96 people who died April 10 when a plane carrying Kaczynski to a memorial for a World War II massacre crashed near Smolensk, Russia.
"I am a musician, and my way of mourning is to play music," said Stanko, 67,
who was acquainted with the Polish president.
Sitting at Birdland's bar before a sound check, Stanko recalled seeing
saxophonist Wayne Shorter playing a concert after his daughter had just died.
"He had to still play," Stanko said. "Music is our language, and this is our
way of communicating."
The group Friday was to play some songs from its most recent recording, "Dark Eyes" (ECM 2009), a collection of somber and mysterious songs with a strong rhythmic foundation. The players, mostly young Scandinavians, include pianist Alexi Tuomarila and drummer Olavi Louhivuori of Finland, and guitarists Jakob Bro and Anders Christensen of Denmark.
A recording of the performance may be released on CD by Stanko's record label, ECM.
"My music is influenced by our climate in Poland," said Stanko, wearing a black fedora and sport coat. "We don't have a lot of light in Poland. The sun and the light dictate the kind of music you make."
A student of saxophonist Ornette Coleman and trumpeter Miles Davis, Stanko
explored different approaches to improvisation, traveling in India and working
with innovators such as guitarist Taj Mahal and saxophonist Chico Freeman.
Kaczynski will leave a strong legacy, Stanko said.
"Kaczynski was a very noble person," he said. "He respected art and artists."