Polish trumpeter, bandleader, and composer Tomasz Stanko has created a ballads album worthy of the hearty approval of his former employer, Kryzsztof Pendereki. With the aid of pianist Bobo Stenson, bassist Anders Jormin, and drummer Tony Oxley, Stanko has composed and recorded a series of vanguard ballads that make full use of his tonal palette and chromatic invention. Stanko composes a great deal for film and here it shows with the lush textures, rich timbres, and angular sonances. The set opens with the glorious "Sunia," which features Stenson in an unusually aggressive mode, attacking the upper middle register with 16-note runs and turnarounds in the key signature before Stanko brings it back to earth, very slowly with a mournful wail with a hearty echo put on his trumpet. On "Morning Heavy Song," it feels like all the funerals in the world have been times to begin at once. With the difficult, angular trumpet lines criss-crossing the middle registers of Stenson's piano with large, dense chords, it could have been entitled "Morning Suicide Song." The title track is a sweet relief in the contrapuntal lyricism between Stanko and Stenson and the point-on-point drumming of Oxley, who shifts his allegiances from tune to soloist with amazing alacrity. In all, pretty much a stunner from Stanko, and every bit the equal, if not the superior, of any of his ECM titles.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek