Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Review: Tomasz Stanko - The Soul Of Things

Tomasz Stanko is the greatest living trumpet player of the moment. Fact.

Tomasz Stanko is a stand-out example of the artist, jazz or otherwise, who gets better with age. At sixty-years old and having had to re-learn the playing of the trumpet due to the loss of his natural teeth, Stanko developed a new darker yet rich tone that has drawn inevitable comparisons with the great masters, including the often (over) referenced Miles Davis. Like Davis, he is not one to rest on his past accomplishments and he continues to drive forward and progress with a passionate yet graceful fire in his playing.

‘The Soul Of Things’, featuring a young backing trio that Stanko has chosen to play with for many years – since they were teenagers in fact – truly is a work of both skill and art. Taking a single theme, Stanko and his extremely gifted musicians play out thirteen variations, creating a kind of jazz ‘suite’. Musically it is largely unhurried and sparse, but full of soulful variety, boasting broodiness one minute, sereness the next, we also get genuine power and bop as well.

As with all Stanko albums we get some free improvisation, but not at the expense of melody, most of which here has a languid and yearning feel to it. The trumpets tone too perfectly suits the the other instruments and the music laid down by the backing group. But what really strikes you is the perfection in the recording of this album – every cymbal brush, subtle piano chord, rumble of the bass and breath of the trumpet comes across with crystal clear clarity, almost as if you are in the same room as the quartet.

Nothing truly groundbreaking exists about the album, but the compositions and the variations are all done with such style, and restrained passion, that it has a charm all its own. A true album recording that needs to be played in its entirety to be fully-appreciated, this is complex music played with soul by exceptional and young musicians, the cohesive playing of the band evident everywhere throughout. Full of melody and soul, this is timeless, mood filled music that simply comes highly recommended.


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