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Tomasz Stanko Quartet: Lontano

It’s a fine line between introspection and shoegazing, and trumpeter Tomasz Stanko straddles it well on his new disc, Lontano. Stanko is a difficult fellow to criticize. A Polish jazz leader for three and a half decades, Stanko has left an impressive body of work in his wake. On Lontano, his quartet continues the ideas that have served him well-airy constructions, pensive arrangements and a relaxed approach. Stanko’s is a patient kind of music, one that demands undivided attention. Yet the music is so quiet, so delicate, that at times it falls prey to its own preciousness.

The three-part title suite is spread among the album’s nine tracks, but really any of them could be included, as one tune can blend into the next. To be fair, there are moments of sheer beauty within these 77 minutes: Michal Miskiewicz gently tapping his stick on the side of the kit several minutes into “Lontano, I”; pianist Marcin Wasilewski crafting a dark, elegant passage over bassist’s Slawomir Kurkiewicz’s drone on “Cyrhla”; Stanko’s first mournful strains on “Song for Ania”; the juxtaposition of the piano’s high trills and the trumpet’s low growls on “Kattorna.” But there are too many prolonged stretches of ambient soundscape to sustain interest, especially in the disc’s latter half. It’s as though the band tired of the music midway through. I know the feeling.

Originally Published