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Tomasz Stanko: From the Green Hill

Tomasz Stanko appears to be one of only a handful of trumpeters who is currently writing and recording challenging music. Like fellow brassmen Leo Smith, Kenny Wheeler and Toshinori Kondo, Stanko’s been at it for more than 30 years. Though he records often enough, he rarely performs outside of Europe, which is a shame because there’s no one else who sounds quite like him.

The Warsaw-based trumpeter’s latest finds him in international company, joined by the British saxophonist and clarinetist John Surman, Argentine bandoneonista Dino Saluzzi, Swedish bassist Anders Jormin, Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen and the American violinist Michelle Makarski. Everyone gets a chance to solo, including some goose-bump moments from Stanko, Surman and Saluzzi, but this is no mere blowing session. The pieces are performed both in and out of tempo, with instruments used in various combinations, notably the bandoneon/bass duet during “Roberto Zucco,” the meandering unisons and trumpet/bass/drum trio of “Quintet’s Time,” and the hauntingly beautiful bandoneon solos on two versions of Krzysztof Komeda’s “Litania.”

As impressive as the band is, it’s the musical mood swings, and Stanko’s dark tone, subtle inflections and surreal trumpet work that make this CD a perfect choice for one of those late night, early morning moments of truth.

Originally Published