Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tomasz Stanko Quintet - Dark Eyes (2009)

I chose Dark Eyes for first note in my new blog for two reasons. First, it is still fresh stuff which was premiered in Polish music stores just on 20th October. And this reflects my intention to follow current developments of Polish jazz music for the benefit of mainly foreign audiance. Second, this album is featured by Tomasz Stanko who is both living legend of Polish jazz and musician who enjoys international recognition. Which points out to my second intention to advertise many splendid but largely unknown Polish musicians to listeners from other countries. This I believe shall be good thing for all parties involved since music knows no boundaries, exactly the same as love does.

Dark Eyes marks important time for Tomasz Stanko. The biggest change is new collaboration with young scandinavian musicians. Here they are:
Alexi Tuomarila - piano
Jacob Bro - guitar
Anders Christensen - electrical bass guitar
Olavi Louhivuori - perkusja.

They replaced the fantastic trio of young Polish players (Marcin Wasilewski, Sławomir Kurkiewicz, Michał Miskiewicz) which accompanied Stanko since 1997 (Miskiewicz being at that time 16 years old!). The level of interplay between Stanko and his former trio was legendary and many fans were truly  anxious about the outcome of this change.

Next change comes from the first one since new musicians brought new set-up of instruments thus changing the sound of Stanko music. It was big question for Stanko music careful listeners how it shall affect his music integrity and identity. Further, recently Tomasz Stanko moved from Cracow in Poland to New York. It is very interesting wheteher we shall hear what was Stanko reaction to living in Big Apple, the city being itself also the capitol of jazz.

The answers to all the questions you should of course seek by yourself. I find new, young collabolators more than satysfying. It in fact astonishes me that they were able so fast and so well get into line with Stanko. They also bring to music very attractive scandinavian blend, music being very relaxed, almost chill-out, never still being too obvious or over-controlled. As for album's title it comes from the painting of Oskar Kokoschka "Dark Eyes of Martha Hirsch" which Stanko saw in small gallery next to New York Amsterdam Avenue where he lives in.

The compositions present on this album are all new ones penned by Stanko, except Dirge For Europe and Etiuda Baletowa No. 3 whose author was Krzysztof Komeda, probably most famous of all Polish jazzmen, once collaborator of Roman Polański on his famous Rosemary's Baby picture.

To sum up I shall only say that this is best Polish jazzman playing with incredibly gifted young scandinavian musicians all creating the music which is unique in European jazz and in, I believe, world jazz too. To say one word is enough. Excellent.

Author of text: Maciej Nowotny

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