Friday, September 6, 2013

Dabrowski/Sorey Duo – Steps (2013) ****

Tomasz Dabrowski - trumpet
Tyshawn Sorey - drums


By Adam Baruch

The trumpet / drums duos have been a source of several milestone Jazz collaborations and recordings in the past and this challenging format stimulated the duo members to reach new musical heights and discover previously untraveled paths. This album is another example of this format, this time by two young musicians originating seemingly from two different cultures and born thousands of miles apart: the Polish trumpeter / composer Tomasz Dabrowski (age 28) and the American drummer / composer Tyshawn Sorey (age 32). The album was recorded in New York and comprises of ten original compositions, all by Dabrowski.

The music is all about freedom, but remains beautifully confined within defined structures, both melodically and rhythmically. The themes and improvisations stated by the trumpet go perfectly hand in hand with the rhythmic patterns and polyrhythmic excursions produced by the drum set. The duo format is, a priori, extremely difficult as far as managing a balance between the two participants, especially for the entire duration of an album, but this is one of the most well balanced duo albums ever recorded. Dabrowski and Sorey simply float along each other like a pair of lovers in perfect emotional harmony. It is difficult to estimate how much of this was pre-arranged and rehearsed and how much is spontaneous, but considering that it was all recorded in one session, the unity and cooperation are simply stunning.

The individual statements by the two players are also first rate. Dabrowski is steadily climbing to the very top of Polish Jazz trumpet player's league, being incredibly prolific as a composer and polishing his virtuosity as a player. His versatility is also quite incredible, considering the different settings and stylistic areas he was involved with in the relatively short span of his career. Sorey, who already established his position as one of the most interesting young generation players in the US, displays his masterly technique but above all his wonderful musicality and sense of melody. These two lions are definitely part of the Jazz future, proving again that geography and nationality have absolutely no meaning when artistry prevails.

Music connoisseurs around the world should find this album worthy their attention for many reasons: the rarity of the setting, the excellence of the performances and the honesty and elegance that this project radiates to the listener. Hopefully this meeting of souls will take place again sometime in the future with similar results.

The album was released by the excellent new Polish For Tune label, which presents not only specific aesthetics as far as musical choices are concerned, but also a unified graphic design, all in the best tradition of European Jazz labels. This album also features liner notes by my friend and colleague Maciej Nowotny, which are informative and well written. A true gem!

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