Tomasz Stanko New York Quintet ‘Wislawa’ 2CD ECM 4/5

Now resident in New York, Polish trumpeter is one of the longest serving ECM musicians on the label having debuted back in the mid-1970s with the excellent ‘Baladyna’ and in the 1990s the superb tribute to the recordings of Komeda on ‘Litania’. Over thirty-five years on and now in his seventieth year, Stanko has decided to depart from his long-standing European formations to instead put together a new group who are all United States-based and relatively young in years. He sounds re-invigorated as a result and the double album has a freshness to it that is the sign of a musician who feels that they now have a new lease of life. The doleful lament of ‘Metafizyka’ receives a sparse accompaniment from the quartet while on the freer flowing ‘Miknokosmos’ there are elements of mid-1960s Miles Davis and Stanko surely has that overall sound in mind for this talented new group. On the urgent sounding ‘Assassins’ Cuban-born pianist David Vireilles lays down some percussive vamps and staccatoesque rhythms that indicate he has been listening not only to the great Afro-Cuban tradition, but also to the likes of McCoy Tyner to whom he most resembles and even twentieth century Western classical composers such as Bartok. On the ballad ‘Dernier cri’ there is some impressive cymbal work from Detroit born drummer Gerald Cleaver and in general a genuine warmth to the ensemble performance. The second CD features ‘Oni’, a gentle waltz-like piece with an extended passage by Vireilles and the gorgeous clarity of tone that so typifies Stanko’s own playing. A floating, melancholic air is conjured up on ‘Tutaj'(‘Here’) and here drums and piano combine to create a piece of great beauty. Two lengthy versions of the title track open and end the album and Tomasz Stanko is clearly in a fruitful period from a compositional point of view. An impressive debut from the quartet and a live recording beckons at some point.

Tim Stenhouse