Saturday, February 7, 2015

3D: Dabrowski/Davis/Drury – Vermilion Tree (2014)

3D: Dąbrowski/Davis/Drury

Tomasz Dąbrowski - trumpet
Kris Davis - piano
Andrew Drury - drums

Vermilion Tree


By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by a trio comprised of Polish Jazz trumpeter Tomasz Dąbrowski with American (Canadian born) female pianist Kris Davis and drummer Andrew Drury. All three are considered as some of the most gifted young generation Jazz performers/composers today. The album includes fourteen relatively short pieces, eight of which are co-credited to the entire trio; five are composed by Dąbrowski and one by Drury.

The music is mostly entirely freely improvised, devoid of any melodic or harmonic structure and tends to develop almost accidentally, sometimes at a painfully slow paste. Not all three musicians play along at all times, which results in solo, duo and trio passages being played interchangeably. Dąbrowski's playing, which dominates these proceedings, tends occasionally to produce melodic lines, especially in the tunes he is credited for as composer, but those moments are definitely less frequent. Improvised Music's most important quality is the level of cooperation, interplay and telepathic understanding between the participants, which in my opinion this album sadly lacks most of the time.

I have been following Dąbrowski's career and his recordings for several years and it seems to me that he is not entirely comfortable musically in this setting. He is after all a melodic player, even when he allows a lot freedom and space in his performances, and a completely free/improvised environment is limiting is abilities. This is the reason why he sounds absolutely best when the plays melodic themes, which are the true pinnacle of this session. During the freely improvised accidental passages the trio sounds disjoined and aesthetically barren.

As much as I love Free Jazz/Improvised Music, this album somehow leaves me mostly cold, in spite of my continuous support for Dąbrowski's efforts. His other recordings flirting with improvised music were all superb, so perhaps it's a result of his partners on this particular session, or juts a matter of circumstance. After all, this particular album is just one of many recordings by Dąbrowski, most of which are absolutely splendid efforts, and many others will surely follow, so I'll let bygones be bygones.

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