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Tomasz Stanko Quintet: Dark Eyes

Tomasz Stanko has often been mentioned in the same breath as Miles Davis and as Stanko's quartet expands by one, it would be entirely accurate to suggest that the legendary Mr. Davis is still a major influence. Tomasz has that innate ability that Miles did to completely seduce the listener with the starkest, loneliest compositions by somehow transforming those melancholy blasts into engrossing and entertaining songs that are beautifully constructed and magnificently executed. The Quartet's last release was back in 2006, however apart from Stanko himself the personnel that makes up his new Quintet has totally changed. The new instrumental addition is that of guitar and the contribution of Jakob Bro is restrained, respectful and extremely effective as he compliments the trumpet themes and Alekxi Tuomarila's quite wonderful piano work to perfection.

Whilst style wise Dark Eyes most definitely aims for traditional jazz, what is most striking is that the piano themes are softer and more accessible than many albums of this ilk are. Easy listening this is not, however the motivation here is not to confuse or challenge, but instead all ten tracks on show gently work some impressively technical passages into music that tells a story. The bass work from Anders Christensen adds to the intensity, and Olavi Louhivouri is just sublime behind the kit. His percussive work doesn't so much drive the music as persuade to work with him and his rhythmical work on the ride cymbal and his ghost notes add colour and interest to the already engrossing mix.

Among Dark Eyes many highlights are the remarkably sparse "May Sun" which really is just a gentle guitar theme backed by occasional piano, however the effect is intoxicating. "Grand Central" by contrast is far more complex as the trumpet, weaves through some wonderful piano while the bass and drums pick out notes to embellish before all the different instrument seem to dare each other to fire off in different directions while remaining completely locked together. Then the opening theme is resurrected and order restored. Another floating trumpet motif leads the wonderfully melodic "Samba Nova" however it is the slow build of the ten minute "The Dark Eyes Of Martha Hirsch" that really allows Stanko to stretch out and up the ante as his playing is superb and as he swoops and dives the backing from the band is just wonderful. Everybody gets their moment to shine and the ebb and flow of the music is compelling.

With Dark Eyes the Tomasz Stanko Quintet have produced a set of songs that are wonderfully easy to get into without ever compromising the structures and disciplines required to make classy jazz music in the process. Highly recommended.


Track Listing
1.So Nice
2.Terminal 7
3.The Dark Eyes Of Martha Hirsch
4.Grand Central
5.Amsterdam Avenue
6.Samba Nova
7.Dirge For Europe
8.May Sun
9.Last Song
10.Etiuda Baletowa No. 3

Added: March 6th 2010
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Artist's Web Site
Hits: 1511
Language: english

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