Tomasz Stanko Quintet - Dark Eyes (4 stars)

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Tomasz Stanko Quintet - Dark Eyes

(ECM Records)

Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko has been one of the mainstays of the ECM catalogue, and this latest release features the debut of another new line-up, with two musicians from Finland, pianist Alexi Tuomarila and drummer Olavi Louhivuori, and two from Denmark, guitarist Jakob Bro and bassist Anders Christensen. No surprise, then, that the disc offers a characteristically ‘European’ soundscape, driven by plaintive, slightly melancholic but often edgy lyricism and intricately shimmering instrumental textures in the classic ECM mould.

Stanko can also be robust when he feels the urge, and a couple of tracks here are more assertive than that description might suggest, notably the bop-inflected ‘Grand Central’. The music is largely by the trumpeter, including the atmospheric ‘The Dark Eyes of Martha Hirsch’, inspired by a Kokoschka painting. The exceptions are two compositions by the great Polish jazz composer Krzysztof Komeda. The band gels beautifully, and performances are excellent.

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