Monday, March 4, 2013

Tomasz Stanko New York Quartet, Wislawa

At age 70 Polish trumpet-master, composer, bandleader Tomasz Stanko has been on the scene for so many years, one sometimes forgets how long it's been. Before he was signed to ECM I came across some of his gems from the '60s on the national Polish label which happily brought him to my attention. That was the early '70s. They were rather hard to find and did not get a great deal of attention over here, but showed him in excellent light. Once he was on ECM, a wider audience came to appreciate him in the States and he kept up his output with various phases, virtually always very fine music, including the introduction of electronic instruments and so forth.

Now we stand nearly a decade and a half into the millennium and he continues to thrive. He celebrates that in a way with his latest, Wislawa (ECM) a double album with his New York Quartet (with David Virelles piano / Thomas Morgan double bass / Gerald Cleaver drums). In some ways he is coming full circle.

It's vibrant acoustic jazz with a compositional side and of course as you would expect plenty of space for the Stanko trumpet. Both aspects of his music put him in a category of one and that still is true.

There is a great deal of music on this set and it takes some time to digest. This music often has a laid-back quality that could make you forget to listen carefully and just bask in the mellow light. But a few listens into it and the music comes forward in full relief. It's seminal Stanko and the band sets the music off well.

Stanko is a treasure. You'll find some of the reasons why on the new album. Excellent listening.

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