JAZZ FORUM - Krystian Brodacki - 12/2005
‘At the very beginning of the Jazz Film Salon Festival I got sure that jazz is not only for listening but also for watching. Any non-believer had to change their mind during Kasia Stankowska’s performance. Her ambitious repertoire (Afro Blue or In Walked Bud) goes together with her beauty, charm, sex appeal… She proves to be a jazz vocalist who is both talented and phenomenal!’
Ada Zgajewska - 14.10. 2005 SKOK JAZZ SOPOT
‘A day before I listened to Kasia Stankowska and her band (Marcin Jar - drums, Tomasz Pruchnicki - saxophone, Jacek Niedziela – double bass, Marek Markowski - piano). The winner of the Jazz Vocalist Competition in Zamość in 2011 showed her class in both jazz standards and her own compositions. I had read that Kasia sings scat and treats her voice as an instrument. She proved that in her performance, especially during the breakneck improvisations done in unison with the saxophonist. I, however, got captivated by her rare velvet and warm voice in ballads, her aesthetics and musical taste…’
Jazz Forum 1-2/04 - the 3rd Wrocław Jazz Festival
‘Kasia Stankowska – The New Jazz Voice – is already a star likely to be competed for by various jazz festivals. Over the last year her voice has become more mature, her timbre and articulation have gained more freedom and confidence. Her ‘Skylark’ is a real gem. The musicians were excellent. Jacek Niedziela was in a class by himself.’
Gazeta Wyborcza 12.02.2004
‘The results of the readers’ survey published a few days ago in Jazz Forum were no surprise for anyone who is at least a little bit interested in Polish jazz music. The first free places took already recognized stars: Grażyna Auguścik, Anna Maria Jopek and Urszula Dudziak. The fourth place - both unlucky (outside the podium) and lucky (showing her growing popularity) - took Kasia Stankowska from Wrocław. I can’t bear to think what will happen when Kasia releases her debut album. She sings mostly standards, but what makes her different from many talented vocalists is the ability to sing scat.’
Panorama Oleśnicka 23.04.2004
‘Kasia Stankowska’s performance was a real jazz feast for those gathered at the 2nd meeting of the Jazz Na Kanapie Association.’
Gazeta Wyborcza 12.12.2003
‘Kasia Stankowska consistently sings jazz. She is not tempted by fame and money, she does not seem to be interested in making an easy career in Polish show business. She simply sings jazz and, occasionally, but fruitfully deals with popular music. Kasia already honours various jazz festivals, dazzling audiences with her beauty and outstanding improvisation skills. She is supported by a band made up of recognized instrumentalists.’
Super Express 25.06.2004
‘A girl with unusual charisma and voice. She combines great talent, jazz feeling, skills and charm. All these things make Kasia Stankowska a very attractive vocalist.’
A review after Zamość - Jazz Forum 12/02
‘The winner was the jazziest and technically outstanding Katarzyna Stankowska from Wrocław. The jury chairman J.P. Wróblewski emphasized a very high level of the competition; Stankowska showed her musicality but first of all good harmonious scat.’
Słowo Polskie 16.05.2002
‘Kasia Stankowska’s performance will mark the beginning of the 5th edition of the Blues Brothers Day. Stankowska is a young, very talented and award-winning jazz vocalist. Despite her young age she has already gained recognition on the Polish jazz stage.’
Gazeta Wyborcza 17.10.2002 Jazzy Szpilman
‘A rising star of Polish jazz sings Szpilman. Perfect timing! Just before screening Roman Polański’s ‘The Pianist.’ Kasia Stankowska prepared a full-scale programme of Szpilman’s songs.’
‘It’s 10p.m. Our Jazz Club in Ruska Street is so crowded that it’s impossible to enter. Music journalists from Austria, Germany and England came to listen to a rising jazz star – Kasia Stankowska. Everybody is having a great time.’
Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski – Three Quarters of Jazz - 31.08.2004
(after the festiwal in Olsztyn)
‘I am delighted to say that Kasia Stankowska did not rest on her laurels gained a few years ago in Zamość and is still swinging.’
An interview for Jazz Forum 9/02, ‘Kasia Stankowska – a new voice’
She graduated from the Karol Szymanowski Music School and has just completed the first year of jazz studies at the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław. She was awarded the first prize at the Jazz Vocalist Competition in Zamość in 2011. One year earlier she received an individual award at the Jazz nad Odrą Festival for the most interesting interpretation of a song about Wrocław. She also performs as a soloist in Aleksander Mazur’s Big Band. Last year she represented Lower Silesia at the International Exhibition EXPO 2000 in Hanover. Apart from club concerts she particularly appreciates the Berlin Recital devoted to Władysław Szpilman’s compositions where she performed together with the pianist Paweł Perliński. Kasia Stankowska, who has got a beautiful voice, has mastered a difficult art of jazz improvisation. She sings scat and treats her voice as an instrument. At the same time she shows an incredible sense of harmony and excellent improvisation skills. She particularly enjoys performing her own arrangements of jazz standards but she also sings her own compositions in Polish. Her talent, jazz feeling and skills combined with her charm make her more and more often invited to take part in important concerts and festivals. Nowadays she is performing with the pianist Marek Markowski and together with the double bass player Jacek Niedziela and the drummer Marcin Jahr they make up the band The New Jazz Voice. She is also cooperating with the quintet O.K.E.J. whose members are students and graduates of jazz studies at the Music Academy. The group is considered as a great hope of Wrocław’s young jazz.
JAZZ FORUM: You come from a musical family. When did your adventure with jazz start?
KASIA STANKOWSKA: I grew up in a house full of music. My grandmother taught at the Music Academy, but it was my father who made me interested in popular music. He himself used to play the piano. Thanks to him I got to know the first standards and became interested in jazz. My father’s brother was also a good pianist, he even received a prize at the Jazz nad Odrą Festival but he gave up music and took up a ‘normal’ job. My parents always motivated me and made me believe in myself. I’m proud that I encouraged my brother to play the trumpet. Now when I see the progress he’s making and how much he loves jazz, I’m happy.
JF: You started your music education as a pianist. When did you start singing?
KS: I used to sing a lot as a child, but when I went to school I found it embarrassing. It changed only in the final years of the music school when I took part in the school festival and was luckily noticed by Professor Aleksander Mazur. That’s how it began.
JF: I remember your first concerts with the big band in Czarny Salon KZT. Who had the biggest influence on your further development as a vocalist?
KS: It was Professor Aleksander Mazur who made me discover jazz, encouraged me to improvise and invited me to perform with his big band. Later I attended Marek Bałata’s classes who discovered the qualities of my voice and showed me my possibilities. He advised me to sing in my natural low pitch.
JF: What attracted me one was the timbre of your voice – warm and gentle, now I like your scat improvisation and your phrasing. Does it mean that now you pay less attention to timbre?
KS: There’re vocalists especially loved for their timbre, for example, Shirley Horn, Kevin Mahogany. I think timbre is not the most important thing in singing jazz. A good example is Al Jarreau who can use his voice in every possible manner. I particularly like his timing, phrasing and an excellent selection of syllables in his improvisations.
JF: What about your favourite foreign vocalists as it would be uncomfortable to ask you about Polish ones?
KS: There’re lots of them, for example, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Carmen McRae or Diana Krall but I always go back with pleasure to old records by Ella or Louis Armstrong. I also more and more often listen to instrumentalists, especially trumpeters: Miles Davis, Wallece Roney, or our excellent Piotr Wojtasik. I’m particularly enchanted by Lyle Mays’s abstract way of playing and by imaginative Dawid Kikoski.
JF: Why do you find listening to instrumentalists so important?
KS: I learn from them improvisation, harmony, scale and phrasing. Vocalists don’t usually pay attention to such things. I want my improvisations to be instrumental. That’s why I go deeply into studying harmony and I’m learning to use scales. That’s why I also decided to take up musical studies in Piotr Kałużny’s class this year.
JF: Why did you choose the Academy of Music in Wrocław?
KS: It’s hard to imagine a better artistic atmosphere than the one in the Jazz Department created by Professor Aleksander Mazur. Classes are run by excellent musicians such as Piotr Wojtasik, Grzegorz Nagórski, Jacek Niedziela, Janusz Brych and, mentioned before, Piotr Kałużny. Alesander Mazur’s Big Band is playing here, the vocal quartet The Sound Orifice and the quintet O.K.E.J. come from here. One of the first year students is Piotr Baron.
JF: I’m wondering if you will meet in the academic big band. Recently there’ve been a lot of young jazz female vocalists in Poland. They’re singing, let’s say, either in a jazz way (the so called Ewa Bem’s school) or in a soul way (the so called Ewa Uryga’s school).
KS: I think it doesn’t make sense to create artificial divisions into schools of singing. Every teacher tries to teach his/ her students the best he/ she can. However, I think, that singing education opportunities are still rather limited in Poland. The jazz vocalist competition in Zamość showed, for example, that the current trend in jazz singing is soul and gospel style. It makes me even happier then that the jury in Zamość appreciated the improvised way of singing more.
JF: Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski, the jury chairman in Zamość, said that that you’re the first vocalist in Poland who uses harmonious scat in a conscious way. What does it mean to you?
KS: Such words by such an excellent musician are a great honour for me. Most instrumentalists don’t treat improvising vocalists seriously, that’s why Mr. Ptaszyn’s words convinced me that I’m doing the right thing.
JF: Who are you working with at the moment?
KS: These days I’m working with the pianist Marek Markowski and together with the double bass player Jacek Niedziela and the drummer Marcin Jahr we make up the band The New Jazz Voice. It’s a band of my dreams, however, I’m thinking of adding a wind instrument. I’m also cooperating with the group O.K.E.J. whose members are studying at the Jazz Department at the Music Academy.
JF: In a relatively short time you managed to prepare a very wide repertoire of standards and your own compositions which filled a few programmes such as jazz standards, Latin jazz or jazzy carols. What about your latest proposition?
KS: Together with the pianist Paweł Perliński we gave a recital in Berlin devoted to Władysław Szpilman’s works. Encouraged by its success we (me and the band) prepared a programme based on his compositions. We will have a chance to present it in the Polish Institute in Paris at the opening of Roman Polański’s films festival.
JF: You will also represent young Wrocław’s jazz in the jazz club ‘Paris – Prague’ in the Czech Cultural Centre, situated in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Wish you all the best in Paris.
An interview for Gazeta Wyborcza 07.2000 (after Jazz Nad Odrą 2000), ‘Sweet means sweet’
Adam Wiatr: You received the main prize for the best vocal performance at the recently finished Jazz nad Odrą Festival. What had you been doing before?
Kasia Stankowska: It all began with Professor Aleksander Mazur who spotted me at the youth singing festival Karolek (laughs).
It is an annual event held in the Music School in Łowiecka Street where I used to attend the piano class. Just before finishing school I got to like singing and then Mr. Mazur invited me to take part in his classes. He also gave me the first jazz records. I got bitten by the bug and fell in love with jazz and the stage. I also attended Marek Bałata’s lessons. These were followed by different workshops where I got in touch with professional musicians, which was extremely motivating.
Do you remember your stage debut?
Two years ago I sang ‘All The Things You Are’ by Jerome Kern with the Music Academy’s Big Band in Czarny Salon. I have a recorded copy of this performance but now I don’t want to listen to it (laughs).
You got an award for your interpretation of Maria Koterbska’s song about Wrocław. How did you come up with the idea?
Actually, the song about Wrocław is an episode. Generally I’m not a fan of such songs but I like Maria Koterbska’s version. If I had introduced more changes in my version, the song wouldn’t be so intelligible. I didn’t want to make it unrecognizable with changed rhythmics and improvisation.
During the festival you also sang Gershwin’s ‘Isn't It A Pity’ with Polish lyrics. Is it true that it’s easier to swing in English?
Yes, it is. English makes it easier to reach jazz feeling. It’s definitely harder to phrase in Polish. But recently I’ve noticed that a standard sung in Polish sounds very beautiful. And you can deeper convey the lyrics. It was Marek Bałata who made me realize the importance of understanding an English text or, I shall better say, its every word. You can’t sing the word ‘way’ shortly and quickly. It makes us think of something wide. Whereas ‘sweet’ must be sung really sweetly.
So now you’re going to polish your English?
Now I’d like to work with a native American speaker who will simply be talking with me for many hours to make me catch the rhythm, melody and accent. It is also important in scat singing. In the beginning I used to pick and choose strange syllables which didn’t match American singing at all. When Dee Dee Bridgewater utters a few sounds of the kind, we hear something really great.
But you’re surely thinking of recording your first album?
It needs to wait. During the festival Paweł Brodowski (Jazz Forum’s editor – footnote by A.W.) told me to collect a song after song. I’d like to prepare a bigger programme but it takes a lot of effort.
For example with the Wrocław’s quintet O.K.E.J. or in a duet with Marek Markowski?
The latter requires much more maturity – every single nuance is important in a duet.