Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Tomasz Stańko/Freelectronic - Freelectronic In Montreux (1987)

Stańko's mid-80s fusion ensemble in action at the 1987 Montreux Jazz Festival.  Possibly not the full performance, unless they did only appear for 35 minutes, but enough to get a flavour of their nicely odd trumpet-bass-synth-synth sound.  Yep, there's no drummer here, with the rhythmic drive being provided by Witold Szcurek's bass slapping and Tadeus Sudnik's arsenal of tweaked synths and 'self-made electronics'.

I'll readily admit that my initial listen to this recording just elicited a response of 'arrrgh 80s cheese', and I even referred to it in a previous Stańko writeup as 'hilarious', but scratch below the surface sound (the twanging bass, and a very much of-its-time DX7) and repeated listens throw up the little idiosyncrasies that keep me coming back to Freelectronic In Montreux.
Alternate cover
Most of this is down to Sudnik, whose little whooshes and burbles take the group's sound into a weirder dimension than upbeat opener Lady Go would otherwise suggest.  The atmospherics of Asmodeus and Too Pee are more interesting still, suggesting a definite Vangelis presence in Sudnik's record collection.  Stańko himself is on fine firey form on the uptempo numbers (and on the loose soundscape of Too Pee), and coolly melancholic elsewhere, looking forwards to his mature ECM years.  The MC at the end appears to say "rebel of Polish jazz - Tomasz Stańko", and on this evidence he very much still merited that crown in the 80s.
Another alt cover - had they employed the guy who drew for Ozric Tentacles or something??



  1. Had no idea Stanko even remotely ventured into fusion/electric jazz. I only own his 90s and later ECM stuff which is a far cry from this and mostly trad jazz territory. A shame many musicians just ran from anything new and pioneering the prog/jazz scene had pioneered in the 70's.....well....except Nil Petter Molvaer!

    1. Search the Stanko tag for 'Purple Sun' - I posted that right near the beginning of this blog - absolutely scorching Mahavishnu-esque jamming from 1973. I've also got one called Jazzmessage From Poland from '72 with lengthy fusion tracks, must post it sometime. Came out on a kinda grey-market CD reiss last year, but sound is ok.

    2. Wow Ill search for the other TS release. Have you ever heard Entrance with trumpet player Palle Mikkelborg? They did a live fusion album early 80s I believe been looking for that music as well. Not as intense as Mahavishnu but its got the Euro/Danish trademark sound. Palle is a rather unknown in the US but hes supported Rypdal back in the day and was featured on a few of Terje's releases on ECM.

    3. Interesting, thanks! Just looked up Mikkelborg's appearances and it looks like the only one I've heard is on Vesala's Satu (posted here early on). Will need to check out Entrance.

    4. Palle played some wonderful horn on Terjes mid to late 70s records Waves in particular is a gem. You should also check out Palle's solo discs quite good. Btw this Stanko is a complete oddball with no drummer its out there in a different universe Asmodeus in particular is fringing on cosmic/ambient jazz. I like the fact these guys where just going with the flow and experimenting. Nice one!