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Sunday, April 09, 2017

CD Review: Tomasz Stańko New York Quartet – December Avenue

Tomasz Stańko (trumpet); Davide Virelles (piano); Reuben Rogers (double bass); Gerald Cleaver (drums).
(Review by Hugh C.)
A decade ago Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko took an apartment in the city he considers the jazz capital of the world, New York, the stomping ground of all his early musical heroes.  Once resident it was not long before he was playing with some of the most gifted and creative players on the scene.  The first tangible record of this was the New York Quartet's first, much acclaimed release Wislawa.
Stańko's work is recognisable by the grainy tone and smeared notes, the lyrical and soulful themes characteristic of the noirish atmospheres they conjure.  He is generous with his compositions in allowing fellow band members time and space to express themselves.  December Avenue, the Quartet's second release, was recorded at studios in the south of France, with bass player Reuben Rogers (originally from the Virgin Islands) joining the band and forming a deep understanding with Cuban born pianist David Virelles and Detroit drummer Gerald Cleaver.
December Avenue, released as a CD with a generous 64 minutes of music is a treat.  There are twelve tracks in all:  Cloud – Conclusion – Blue Cloud – Bright Moon – Burning Hot – David and Reuben – Ballad for Bruno Shulz – Sound Space – December Avenue – The Street of Crocodiles – Yankiels Lid – Young Girl in Flower.  Each is classic Stańko, with extensive solo or tutti passages by the other band members interspersed or interrupted respectively by lyrical trumpet or stabbing interjections by Stańko.  As alluded to in my previous review (Tomasz Stańko Quartet, GIJF 2017) much is recognisable and familiar as the work of Stańko, despite my having heard the CD only once before.  That having been said, if Stańko is what you like, you will like this!
The promotional material received by Lance and passed on to me with the CD on GIJF 2017, day 1 at the Sage 1, level 1 bar proclaims that “Stańko begins a European tour at the end of March, playing the music of December Avenue” with dates in various mainland European cities and including Gateshead, United Kingdom.  As indicated in my review of that event, I cannot attest to the veracity of this statement due to the lack of an indication of what they were playing or about to play.  All I can say is Stańko fans loved the gig and will also love this.
Hugh C.
December Avenue is now released and available for purchase on ECM - CD No. 6025 5726302 2

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