Tomasz Bura ‘Ritual (Live)’ (SJ) 4/5

tomasz-buraPianist/composer Tomasz Bura studied classical music in Poland, going on to win several jazz and classical music competitions. Having toured extensively throughout Europe as a sideman to many artists including Ernesto Simpson, Mark Fletcher, Joel Compass and Sola Akingbola, we find him here focussing entirely on an album of solo piano compositions. A daring thing to do perhaps for a young composer/performer, but right from the off you can tell this man’s heart has gone into each and every tune, creating an album of rich, warm and thoughtful music. The title track “Ritual” is simply gorgeous. Bura has a soft touch on the keys, reminding me of the more sensitive side of Esbjorn Svensson. Lovely chords combine with a loose, flowing melody to create a sincere and heart warming opening to the session. “Between Strings” is almost Keith Jarrett-esque with its combination of vamps and intricate patterns. This really is quite beautiful, music to lose yourself in completely, the classical training very apparent, enabling the pianist a base of knowing, authoritative technique on which to add his virtuosic improvisations. Bura manages to take the classic “Caravan” to a place rarely heard before. Lively polirythms twist and turn this way then that, creating juxtaposed harmonies that are both sweet and enticing. His glowing technical ability is matured to the point that one senses he doesn’t need to think… he just performs, allowing him to produce music that sounds as if it’s being played by a pianist well beyond his years. “Tayamaya” is a sumptuous tune and whilst Bura doesn’t quite have the touch of one of my favourite pianists, his compatriot Marcin Wasilewski, he comes pretty close which really is saying something. Melody is the key to this piece, painting pictures and memories of lost times for the listener to disappear into. The lyrical “K.M.” sounds like an ode to someone special. Bura tells stories within his tunes and this one is a tale of sadness tinged with a developing smile that says to me; something special has been lost, but I’m now at a place where I can reflect on its beauty and move on in life. On “Improv” Bura allows his jazz head to take over the black and white keys in a playful quest. The music here is searching for something just out of reach, dancing with hopeful effervescence and sparkling with a tapestry of rich, spritely, wide-eyed youthful passion. “Morning” is a tender piece of melancholy that somehow manages to be ultimately uplifting. One of my favourite tunes on this lovely album, it is lyrical, melodic, and has a clear, crisp feel to it, taking the listener on a journey through deep emotion, onto life affirming hope and resolution. The final piece “Coda” employs a sweeping romanticism that the great composer Rachmaninov would have approved of. Bura seems to let his guard down here, enjoying being swept away by the music he is making. There is a depth and intelligence to this that shows what a very promising talent this young composer is.

Solo piano albums have the potential to be somewhat boring, too much of the same thing perhaps. But not this one. Tomasz Bura keeps things interesting for the listener at all times. Whilst the album doesn’t have the depth to it of say a Keith Jarrett works, it most definitely has a gorgeous and sincere nature to it throughout, with strong, thoughtful compositions played with skill and touch. On this evidence Mr Bura is one to watch and it will be interesting to see where his talent takes him to next.

Mike Gates