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Tomasz Stanko Quartet – ‘September Night’, rec.04'

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    Posted: 22 Jun 2024 at 2:44pm

 Tomasz Stanko Quartet – September Night

(ECM 2650 / 651 914 . Album review by Phil Johnson) 

TOMASZ STAŃKO - Tomasz Stanko Quartet : September Night cover

Recorded in concert at Munich’s Muffathalle in September 2004, ‘September Night’ represents the great Polish trumpeter Stanko’s classic quartet with pianist Marcin Wasilewski, bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michal Miskiewicz, at the absolute top of its form. It was a year when the group played more engagements than ever before, and – in a good way – it sounds like it, with an empathetic interplay between the players that is very apparent. The mutual understanding between Stanko and Wasilewski seems particularly marked, and the governing style, which is both dreamily free-floating and emphatically hard-swinging, falls somewhere between the studio albums ’Suspended Night’ (also 2004) and the more experimental ‘Lontano’, which followed in 2006. Everything is delivered through a risk-taking approach that is heroically “live”: tempos constantly chop and change within the same piece, the music appearing to grow organically and develop a life of its own that goes beyond the contributions of the individual players. The track ‘Euforilla’ exemplifies this to perfection. Fast and slow, hard and soft, by turns, it’s the sound of a group at the very height of its powers arriving at a kind of transcendent fluidity.

If the musicians sound like they understand what each of them is going to do before they do it, it’s hardly surprising: they had already been playing together since 1993, when the young trio – who’d been playing amongst themselves before that – were all still in their teens. Stanko played his last concert with them in 2017, one year before he died, making the quartet the longest-lasting ensemble in his long career, although he formed other groups in Europe and also while living in New York in his last years. But as a documentary record of a particular band of musicians at a particular time in its development, ’September Night’ is outstanding on every level. Stanko himself plays superbly, and sounds really strong and full-voiced, even while making those familiar wheedling smears, giddily aerated runs and urgent, stabbing punches that characterised his expressive lexicon of trumpet dialects.

While listening, it’s also difficult not to think of Miles Davis, if not for the music itself, or the Stanko trumpet style, but rather for the intensity of the overall experience and the full-on commitment of the rhythm section, who are truly greyhounds straining at the leash. Specifically, it’s hard not to think at times of the second great Miles quintet, with Hancock, Carter and Williams. All of the seven tracks – each written by Stanko except ‘Kaetano’ which is credited to the quartet – are exceptionally good, from the opening ‘Hermento’s Mood’, which develops gradually from abstract beginnings with a thrumming bass riff and gentle percussive knocks into a beautifully poised, Latin-sounding vamp, to the closing ’Theatrical’, which is like a partial riposte to the opening tune, developing slowly until it burns with intensity on some of Stanko’s most impassioned playing. The ballad ’Song to Sarah’ (the opening track on the 2004 ’Suspended Night’ album), is the one unimpeachable ballad: a deep, moody, noirish piece featuring Wasilewski at his most lyrical. What a band, and what an album. Happily, the trio is still with us.


from https://londonjazznews.com



Edited by snobb - 22 Jun 2024 at 2:45pm
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