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Tomasz Stanko Suspended Night Review

Album. Released 2004.  

BBC Review

Polish trumpet star reunites with his young quartet to record a follow up to the...

Alan Gregory 2002

Tomasz Stanko has been described as 'the Polish Miles Davis' so often now that it's become completely unnecessary to describe his style of playing or the texture of his tone. If anything it's his direction that warrants analysis as we all wait to see what comes next. Previous albums like From the Green Hill leant toward a jazz-meets-folk dynamism but the critical acclaim heaped upon his last, more conventionally jazz tingedrelease (The Soul Of Things) has allowed him to continue in a similar vein with the young Polish rhythm section he has fostered since 1994.

As with Soul of Things the pieces are penned by Stanko and take the form of variations, and there is the same economical, yet impressionisticapproach to the music. This time though they are heading for the freer regions of jazz, with less inclination to stick to the same groove or rhythm. It is still hauntingly beautiful music, full of lyricism and echoes of Miles, swaying between the conventional and the dissonant.

The opening "Song for Sarah" is a ballad; Stanko takes a back seat and leaves it to pianist Marcin Wasilewski to set up Jarrett-esque tones and melodies.The compositional style is factured, though tension is never allowed to stretch to anything near breaking point. This can get monotonous but luckily there's enough freedom to allow a little excitement. "Suspended Variation Two" has a Latin tinge and modal base that reveals considerably adept playing by the pianist in the style of early Chick Corea.

It is perhaps Stanko's greatest achievement that (again, like Miles) he has the ability to push his much younger protégées to achieve their maximum potential. Wasilewski's piano, Slawamir Kurkiewicz on double-bass and Michal Miskeiwicz on drums combine to provide a creative yet rock solid palette upon which all the members can feel free to express themselves without fear of falling off. They even have confidence enough to take on the sound of the classic Miles' quintet of Hancock, Shorter, Williams and Carter on "Suspended Variation Five". No easy task, and though not quite reaching the impossible intensity of that band, they still achieve great imitation; which is surely a perfection of sorts.

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