REVIEW: Tomasz Stańko at Unterfahrt in Munich

Tomasz Stańko
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski


Tomasz Stańko
(Unterfahrt Munich, 4th April 2017. Review* and photos by by Ralf Dombrowski)

When Tomasz Stańko started playing, jazz still had a long way to develop. There are TV recordings from the sixties which show the young trumpeter, slightly nervy but evidently musically voracious, playing in the group of the renowned pianist and composer Krzysztof Komeda, and putting himself under pressure to find new possibilities, to add something individual and personal to the band‘s musical texture. He kept fixed on his task, he traversed phases of free playing, of an elegaic modern style, he developed masterful control of the flux of artistic energy - all of which taught him one lesson above all others: that it is important to let music evolve and to run its course.

The trumpeter, now approaching his 75th birthday, is back on the road, and was showing the current state of his explorations to the audience at the Unterfahrt.  He offers a mixture of openness and structure, of freedom and experience. On the one hand there is his sound – strong and clear, soft despite its heft and scale, with a preference for legato phrasing. And then there is his recognizable compositional manner – reminiscent of Ornette Coleman - forming lines, building the dramaturgy of a song with a plan. He also shapes phrases using the cycle of breathing – inhale, rest, exhale.

Alexi Tuomarila
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski


On the other hand he surrounds himself with musicians who are strong characters capable of complementing and extending his approach, and not undermining it.


Reuben Rogers
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski


Pianist Alexi Tuomarila is the most restrained character in the team, taking care that Stanko‘s music is framed in harmonic colour, with the romantic leanings of chamber jazz, but also transparency. The strong pairing of bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Gerald Cleaver by contrast is rhythmically and melodically detached; they could just as well be playing a concert without the lead instruments. The intrinsic strength of the band's sound, the multiplicity of different musical options, set against a background of calmness made Stanko's concert something particularly inspiring.

Gerald Cleaver
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski


(*) This is a translation of Ralf Dombrowski's original German review in the Süddeutsche Zeitung LINK

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