Selected Recordings (Rarum XVII)

Tomasz Stańko

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Selected Recordings (Rarum XVII) Review

by Thom Jurek

Polish composer and trumpeter Tomasz Stanko's career has been long and varied -- from working with the legendary Krzysztof Komeda in the 1950s and '60s, to his own work that ranges form hard bop to electronic improvisation. A wonderful illustration of that principle is his association with Manfred Eicher's ECM label. This volume, in the excellent Rarum series, begins with Stanko's first date as a leader for ECM in 1975 on the album Balladyna. There are two selections from the set highlighting what was well-known at the time as his radical "predatory lyricism" method of composition and soloing. These stand in subtle contrast with his solo on "Together," from Edward Vesala's Stau from a year later, where his soloing style was already in transition, and he moved even further afield when he played on Gary Peacock's beautiful album Voice From the Past, from which the selection "Moor" is taken. Stanko's harmonic interplay with saxophonist Jan Garbarek is nothing short of breathtaking. Stanko didn't record for ECM again until the mid-1990s, on his own Matka Joanna, by which time his longer, loping lines and more open method of composition, which left much room for silence, and his reliance on a languid yet rich and beautiful counterpoint, was coming to fruition. The majority of this fine set is taken from Matka Joanna, as well as from the titles Litania: The Music of Krzysztof Komeda, Leosia, and From the Green Hill. This is a welcome addition to the Stanko catalog in that it represents an artist who stands outside not only most jazz classification systems, but also apart from ECM's "classic" sound. Highly recommended.

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