Personnel: Tomasz Stanko (trumpet); David Virelles (piano); Thomas Morgan (double bass); Gerald Cleaver (drums).
Liner Note Author: Tomasz Stanko.
Recording information: Avatar Studios, New York, NY (06/2012).
Photographer: John Rogers .
Since relocating to America from his native Europe, Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko has assembled a crack band to articulate his ever fluctuating, often experimental musical ideas. His New York Quartet, consisting of pianist David Virelles, bassist Thomas Morgan, and drummer Gerald Cleaver is a study in contrasts. The septuagenarian trumpeter proves as wily as ever on Wislawa, a double-disc titled for the late poet and Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska, who passed away in 2012, and whose work and persona proved influential in composing the material for this set. Several of these pieces bear the titles of her poems. Stanko's signature brooding, cranky, tone-altering phrasing and disconsolate spirit of tenderness are apparent throughout, but they don't necessarily dictate the album's flow. Two versions of the title track bookend the album and showcase those qualities in balladic form, as do others such as "April Song"; there is also plenty of fire here, evidenced by the aggressive interplay of the rhythm section on tracks such as "Assassins" and "Metafizyka." "Mikrokosmos" is a Stanko showcase, offering at its opening all manner of squeals, skronks, sputters, and sharply angled tones before Virelles adds a Latin touch and the quartet settles into a groove. Likewise in the "Dernier "Cri," where the spirit of Miles Davis' second quintet is evoked. The second disc opens with "Oni," led by Morgan's bass walk. It commences impressionistically, yet develops into an easy grooving post-bop thanks to the bassist and Cleaver's shimmering cymbal work. "Tutaj - Here" offers scintillating -- though often subtle -- interplay between Virelles and the trumpeter, while "Faces" presents the pianist's forceful, canny, harmonic assertions that the rhythm section responds to with near glee. Stanko is at his most fiery in this driven post-bop number that also recalls the Davis quintet's fearless sense of exploration. Throughout this set, Stanko leads this band as he has many others: by example. His democratic sensibilities allow his players to be fully themselves through his compositions, in turn adding depth and heft to them. Wislawa deftly celebrates in a deliberate way, not only the memory of an honored person in Stanko's life, but also the profound inspiration of her life's work upon his own. ~ Thom Jurek
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