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Tomasz Stanko Quartet: Soul of Things

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The Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko has been busy making music for many years. He began his career on the forefront of the European free jazz movement in the ‘60s. While he has made many fine albums since then, most of his notoriety has come in the past few years. Since joining ECM, Stanko has produced many fine albums. Soul of Things is the latest in his string of albums ( Litania, Leosia, and From the Green Hill ) and continues the level of excellency he has established for himself.

Proclaimed the “Polish Miles Davis” in nearly every article I have read about him, Stanko continues to make beautifully searching music. While I agree with this comparison, it has never seemed more appropriate than after I listened to his new album Soul of Things. A thirteen song suite performed by Stanko’s outstanding young quartet would have made my list of the best of 2002 had I been able to get my hands on it before the year ended. I am thankful, however, that I have started 2003 off with a bang!

From the first song a mood of tranquility is set. The band opens with a beautiful melody and Stanko comes in with his hauntingly familiar horn. The interplay amongst the musicians is breathtaking. While Stanko has been playing with this quartet for seven years, this is their first album together. You can tell they know each other well. There is a dream-like rhapsody to the album that is heightened by the fact that Stanko loves to use tonal coloration and shadings in his music. He is much like an impressionistic artist: He sees what we see he just expresses it differently.

Stanko’s albums remain continually impressive, and I look forward to the next album from this fine quartet. While he may be the equivalent of the “Polish Miles Davis” don’t let that fool you into believing he has not found his own voice. Highly recommended.

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