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Tomasz Dabrowski: Ninjazz

Don Phipps By

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Dark and foreboding, with a slight touch of heat, Polish trumpeter Tomasz Dabrowski's album Ninjazz offers up a selection of work that reminds one of his mentor, the late great Tomasz Stanko, with a bit of Enrico Rava, Kenny Wheeler, and Mark Isham thrown in for good measure.

Dabrowski is joined on this effort by a trio of steady and capable musicians, Hiroshi Minami on piano, Hiroki Chiba on bass, and Hiroshi Tsuboi on drums. Together they form the Ad Hoc quartet. All but one composition on the album is penned by Dabrowski, and the music is rhythmically varied and moves fluidly between free form improvisation and structured playing.

Dabrowski shines. Take his steady legato openings on the tunes "Another, More Desirable Reality" and "Concerns," or his abstract poetic offering on "Lines for Bogdan," a phrase that transforms from a plaintive wail into a flurry of notes. The other members of the quartet provide captivating moments too. Tsuboi bolsters the ending of "Oddly Abstract Nature." Chiba uses the bow to great effect on "Perfectly Average" and adds some ferocious licks on "Penalty Fare" and "Lines for Bogdan." And on his composition "Helga," Minami offers a bluesy introspective that suggests a film noir black and white daydream of some mysterious mountain lake shrouded in fog. And his abstract solo on the opening number, "Another, More Desirable Reality," sets the mood in many ways for the entire album.

Especially noteworthy are the compositions "Perfectly Average" and "The North." "Perfectly Average" begins with Dabrowski's elegant statement. He is quickly joined in unison by Chiba. Minami enters with a captivating undertow while Chiba shows off his bowing chops. There is mystery to the music, as though traversing some dark cave with minimal light. "The North" is an abstraction of great beauty. Dabrowski caresses the notes atop Chiba's bowing. His tone suggests a sea horn blowing off shore as the sun sets into a purple dusk.

It's easy to see why Dabrowski has worked and played with artists, such us Stanko, Evan Parker, Pheeroan AkLaff, Avishai Cohen, and the incredible Kris Davis. His tone never falters and his notes are never rushed. Like all great music, Ninjazz aspires to art.

Track Listing: Another, More Desirable Reality; Penalty Fare; Concerns; Oddly Abstract Nature; Perfectly Average; Lines for Bogdan; Helga; Corrosive Power; The North.

Personnel: Tomasz Dąbrowski: trumpet; Hiroshi Minami: piano; Hiroki Chiba: double bass & electronics; Hiroshi Tsuboi: drums.

Title: Ninjazz | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: For Tune

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