A musician who has frequently changed creative directions, trumpeter Tomasz Dabrowski
takes yet another uncharted path with his latest FREE4ARTS album, When I Come Across
. With erstwhile pianist Jacob Anderskov
moving aside for guitarist Simon Krebs, this version of the band now possesses a grittier, rock-inflected sound. With frequent Dabrowski colleague Sven Dam Meinild
switching from alto to baritone sax, unique sonorities become possible as well, resulting in music with a subtle beauty in the midst of its edgy grooves.
The ruminative opener, "HBP," offers insinuating, wistful harmonies from Dabrowski and Meinild, while Krebs' gentle guitar accompaniment coaxes them along and drummer Kasper Tom
floats by with brushes, only picking up the intensity by the end of the track with a more strident rock rhythm as Krebs lets loose and the group signals what is to come. "Pegleg" continues in this vein, with the band's prog-rock leanings surfacing decisively, as Krebs' menacing chords punch forward in tension with the off-kilter rhythmic foundation of the track. Much of the album has this characteristic, with a slightly de-centered familiarity which gives the music its engaging, but somewhat disorienting quality, as each track leaves room for departures and uncertainties.
Dabrowski's lyricism is another key trait, with melodies that don't so much jump out at the listener as much as burrow into the subconscious, teased out through the empathetic interactions between horns and guitar. Amidst the thicket of rhythmic twists and turns, recognizable motifs will come into focus, even if they are occasionally submerged beneath collective abstraction, as on "I Have No Idea," where a semi-cacophony breaks out midway through, only to recede as another theme re-emerges toward the track's close. "When You Get to Actual Playing" does take a while to develop, but it too occupies that space between tunefulness and indirection, as a low-key exchange of ideas between Dabrowski, Meinild and Krebs keeps the track in a pensive vein.
But there is nothing pensive about the album's closer, "When I Come Across," as Krebs' acidic guitar lines propel the music toward its cathartic finale. With just a guitar-drum duo to start the track, Tom stays in sync with Krebs' lurchings before Dabrowski and Meinild jump into the mix, Dabrowski's own trumpet blasts eventually descending into noise before the piece finds its convincing resolution in a burst of rock intensity.
It is a near certainty that Dabrowski will have more surprises in store for the near future but, meanwhile, this is a fine finish to his prolific 2019 output.
HBP; Pegleg; I Have No Idea; Stand Alone Objects; When You Get to Actual Playing; Pulse For Me; When I Come Across.