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Tomasz Stanko New York Quartet: December Avenue (ECM)

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Tomasz Stanko (photo by Jacek Poremba/Universal Music Polska)
Tomasz Stanko (photo by Jacek Poremba/Universal Music Polska)
Tomasz Stanko: "December Avenue"
Tomasz Stanko: "December Avenue"

Tomasz Stanko is the Miles Davis of Europe. He is synonymous with soul. His discography is one of the permanent bodies of trumpet work in jazz. He has gone his own way without looking back. But unlike Davis, Stanko has not reinvented himself every few years. He came of age in communist Poland, and his art has been a sustained attempt to come to terms with the prevailing darkness of his time.

His bands of the 1990s and 2000s drew from the strongest players in Europe, among them Bobo Stenson, Marcin Wasilewski and Anders Jormin. In 2013, on Wisława, he introduced his New York Quartet. This new record keeps pianist David Virelles and drummer Gerald Cleaver from the 2013 version but adds Reuben Rogers on bass. It is Stanko’s most unpredictable, most volatile ensemble. Virelles is consistently stunning. He deepens Stanko’s clandestine auras but sometimes blows them up, like on “Sound Space.”

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