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Tomasz Stanko Quartet: Soul of Things

Mark F. Turner By

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Like a vintage wine that gets better with age, 60 year old Tomasz Stanko from Poland is the epitome that proves that jazz just gets better and better. With a rich and dark tone that is reminiscent of many great horn players, especially Miles Davis; Stanko forges ahead with grace and power that is fiery yet reserved. His latest recording Soul of Things is a work of skill and art. The recording comprises a theme that is played out as a suite in thirteen variations. The whole is a summation of textures and styles that are rooted in modal expressions of jazz. There are brooding elements that are serene as in variation VII. There are ballads with harmonization that take on an atmospheric aura. There's Bop and swing that show the power and coolness of a truly tight jazz unit. Stanko's horn is full of range and versatility. His trumpet sings forcefully to a feverish crescendo and then quickly ends on a soft note on variation III.

This is complex music, but always grounded. Grounded with soul and expressed by exceptional musicianship. His quartet of younger and extremely talented Polish musicians has been with him since the early 1990's. Their cohesiveness is evident on every variation. Highlights include an outstanding drum solo on variation VIII by Michal Miskiewicz. Bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz provides solid work throughout and Marcin Wasilewski delivers mastery on piano. Soul of Things is music that is beautifully written and performed. Timeless, mood filled, complex, and full of soul, it comes highly recommended.

Track Listing: Soul of Things: Variations I-XIII.

Personnel: Tomasz Stanko: trumpet; Marcin Wasilewski: piano; Slawomir Kurkiewicz: double-bass; Michal Miskiewicz: drums.

Title: Soul of Things | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: ECM Records

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