Tomasz Dąbrowski - trumpet, mutes
30th Birthday/30 Concerts/30 Cities
By Adam Baruch
As the title suggests this is a solo trumpet album by Polish Jazz trumpeter Tomasz Dąbrowski, which celebrates his 30th Birthday and a world tour which spanned thirty cities in twelve countries over a period of six months. The music, recorded in a Copenhagen church, consists of ten original compositions, all by Dąbrowski, entitles simply Part I to Part X.
Although only thirty years old, Dąbrowski de facto dominates the Polish Jazz scene (and the Danish Jazz scene as well, since he lives in Denmark) as one of the top trumpet players in Europe, as documented by his prolific recording activity. Stylistically Dąbrowski continues the tradition of Tomasz Stańko, who forty years earlier was also in his early thirties and emerged as a dominating figure on the European Jazz scene. Dąbrowski shares several mannerisms, which characterize Stanko's stylistic approach, but he managed very early on to establish his own language and modernize his technique, which sets him clearly apart from Stanko's role model.
Solo albums are of course the most difficult pieces of Art to defend their validity and artistic value. The nakedness of a single instrument and the obvious limitations which such performance creates are often insurmountable, balanced only by the limitless freedom they offer. Especially so in the case of a solo trumpet performance, which due to the lack of harmonic support makes the task of improvisation even more difficult. Listening to this album blows all the theories apart, since Dąbrowski obviously is no way limited by these circumstances, au contraire he proves that the difficulties simply stimulate him to try harder and go further.
I have always been an admirer of people, who dare, and this album, above all proves that daring and challenging what we know is the key to create incredible pieces of art and push the envelopes of our aesthetics even further into new realms of creativity. Such eye-openers (or ear-openers in this case) happen only really rarely, but when they do they have a tremendous impact on our perception of music. It is very difficult to estimate how much of this creative eruption is "premeditated" (i.e. planned ahead and rationally constructed) and how much is simply inspired by "higher powers" of talent and genius. Regardless of what the answer might be, this is an extraordinary piece of music, which has very few equals.
There is no doubt that this is one of the most important trumpet albums recorded in the last few years, something that belongs to the Pantheon of Jazz trumpet as an incredible example of human ingenuity and limitless power of expression. Perhaps it is good that albums like that one are so rare and far between; this makes their impact even more impressive and lets us keep things in the right perspective. Absolutely essential!