Tomasz Stanko Quartet - "Lontano"


Review by Brad Walseth

The Tomas Stanko Quartet consists of its leader on trumpet, Marcin Wasilewski on piano, Slawomir Kurkiewicz on double-bass, and Michal Miskiewicz on drums. Having played together for a number of years and two previous albums, and having recently completed a tour of the Far East, the group decided to record an album in a more free form style than their usual efforts. The result of this decision is the new release "Lontano" in which the band sounds like an organic entity whose various components have worked together so long they can anticipate and flow with each other in sync.

The three part title track is a highlight, offering freeform interplay ebbing and flowing across a phantasmagoric landscape. Stanko's breathy and often rough-edged trumpet - which has gained him the reputation as the "Polish Miles Davis," is impressive although he rarely ventures beyond a midrange. His sense of time and space as well as the gravitas of his statements suffice in good part in conveying a wide range of emotion. His playing does resemble Miles in his quiter passages, with very little of the funk Miles brought to the table. Pianist Wasilewski is sensitive and imaginative both as a soloist or in providing waterdrop counterpoint to Stanko's trumpet flights. And Kurkiewicz and Miskiewicz keep a fluidity in their sense of time that is an essential element in this fascinating yet unsettling dreamworld.

Stanko has been quoted as being dismissive of the utilization of recognizable melodic passages and "hooks," and this music follows suit. Melody exists to be discovered and then forgotten - only to be discovered again (perhaps) and this gives his art a freshness that bears repeated listening. Mostly calm, quiet and beautiful like the desolate Russian steppes, the band occasionally catch fire - as on Krzysztof Komeda's "Kattorna," but for the most part this is contemplative, introspective music that hangs in the air like mist over a frosty Eastern European plain.

Check out Tomasz Stanko's website

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