Tomasz Stanko Quintet
Dark Eyes

[ECM, www.ecmrecords.com]

Disbanding his Polish-based ensemble, trumpeter Tomasz Stanko decided to move on and start a band from scratch. His latest quintet featured on "Dark Eyes" is made up of pianist Alexi Tuomarila, guitarist Jakob Bro, and a rhythm section of bassist Anders Christensen along with percussionist Olavi Louhivuori. Stanko's playing obviously sets the tone for the record. He can be bold, though he chooses to whimper and stall. What this means is the band more often than not is left looking for direction. Too much of this music makes me think Stanko is only interested in atmospherics instead of moving his music in new, bold directions. "Nice" music or dinner jazz is not what Stanko should be aiming for. His trumpet blasts are not anywhere nearly as direct as they were four decades ago when he was playing in Krzysztof Komeda's ensembles. Though there are some moments on the record that recall what Stanko is capable of doing, I worry those are too few. Perhaps what Stanko really needs at this stage in his career is to give himself over completely to free improvisation?

Tom Sekowski


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