Tomasz Stanko divides his time between his native Poland and New York, maintaining bands in both places. Here his American quartet breaks cover in dramatic fashion.
While having one of jazz’s most distinctive trumpet sounds and having undertaken many darkly European projects, Stanko has also been able to quite unselfconsciously buy into the American jazz tradition, as was obvious on such discs as Soul Of Things. This double album is a seamless blend. His young colleagues ‑ David Virelles (piano), Thomas Morgan (bass) and Gerald Cleaver (drums) ‑ bring their sinewy New York energy to bear, even as Stanko’s compositions brood and pine.
He has always absorbed inputs from beyond music (a habit every player should embrace). Paintings and cinema have both featured, and here he has been inspired by the late Wislawa Szyborska’s poetry. Yet he obstinately refuses to deal in sentiment. Instead he is the master of the manipulation of mood: of creating gloomy contexts for his trumpet to come scything through like some avenging angel. Yet no trumpet sound is as devoid of light as Stanko’s. He is the musical emissary of dark matter and black holes as well as aching hearts.
Cleaver weaves his cymbal dances through these mists, and Morgan, who grows in stature with every release, brings the sort of minimalism and mass to bear that used to be uniquely the province of Charlie Haden’s bass. Virelles, who joins the seemingly unending supply of exceptional Cuban pianists, slashes rents in the music’s fabric and ensures there is some light at the end of these poetic tunnels.