Tomasz Stańko


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Despite the placement of Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko's name at the forefront, it is the least known member of this ensemble who is the bandleader. Sigi Finkel is a young Berlin composer and saxophonist whose music is rooted deeply in the jazz traditions of bebop and post-bop experimentalism as well as the hard bop of the 1950s. But Finkel is no ordinary revivalist: his tone colors are rich and varied, evoking other musics as well: Balinese gamelan, Japanese gagaku, Delta blues, and even, but rarely, 20th century European classical music. Rarely because, as is evidenced in "Twister," with its knotty bop melody played at a dizzying tempo to open the tune and then shifting into a slow funky walk, or the deeply blue "Pink Panthers All Over" with its use of Hank Mobley's harmonic strategy and Henry Mancini's love of sound effects, Finkel is a jazzbo. Period. Drummer Ed Schuller and bassist Billy Elgart make this a truly international ensemble and provide the necessary experience rhythmically to support the rich textural world of Finkel, who plays not only tenor and soprano, but also flute and piano. Other notables include the subtle but timbrally challenging "Heartbreak Syndrome" with its lovely bass walk and nearly pastoral changes which evoke rather than provide a melody, and the tonally and harmonically complex "Shifting People," which takes Schuller through a virtual handful of tempo changes even as the harmonics open to further exploration with each alteration. Stanko shines on this tune with his extensive knowledge of color architecture and his own compositional bias toward turning things inside out. Finkel may have a healthy respect for the vanguard, but his music is far more inclusive and rooted deeply in the pillared floors of classic jazz.

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