Tomasz Stanko Quartet – Lontano – ECM

by | Oct 19, 2006 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Tomasz Stanko Quartet – Lontano – ECM 1980, 76:67 ****:

(Stanko, trumpet; Marcin Wasilewski, piano; Slawomir Murkiewicz, doublebass; Michael Miskiewicz, drums)

A Polish and trumpet-focused slant on the ECM jazz sound in their third album for the label. While the first two were recorded in Oslo, this time the quartet went to a studio near Avignon France. The members say their playing was freer in the new location and they put an emphasis on the laid-back ballad side of Stanko’s music.  The trumpeter is one of the top Polish jazz stars, and his reticent, broad-textured timbre – though it may occasionally remind one of early Miles Davis – is a unique and recognizable style. He’s been doing this for 40 years now, and at age 62 seems to have perfected a quartet especially well attuned to one another’s playing. One reviewer compared the sheer beauty of the ensemble playing to Miles’ Kind of Blue.

The group had just returned from a tour of the Far East when they gathered in the French studio. Stanko said he actually found it easier to play freely with focus in the studio than live, because he had more control over the overall sound. The title track Lontano is divided into three sections sprinkled thru the program. Significance of the name? Who knows, the note booklet only has photos of the session, typically ECM.  Perhaps this just fits in with Stanko’s general approach – he seems to say more with less notes in all his music. He never overindulges or speaks loudly, but still brings across a powerful feeling when appropriate. Many of the tracks open with a low rolling drum solo that eventually brings in the middle-of-the-nite-in-Oslo trumpet sound.  Drummer Miskiewicz also strikes the introspective and subtle sound mix that distinguishes the quartet’s special approach. This is jazz to which you could listen just as carefully and repeatedly as, say, a Shostakovich quartet.

Tracks: Lontano I, Cyrhla, Song for Ania, Kattorna, Lontano II, Sweet Thing, Trista, Lontano III, Tale.

 – John Henry

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