Monday, 20 August 2018

Tomasz Stańko Quintet - Dark Eyes (2009)

Another post in honour of the sadly departed trumpet legend from Rzeszów, with one of his most satisfyingly accessible albums.  Dark Eyes was recorded in the South of France in early 2009 with a fresh group composed of Danes and Finns, most notably guitarist Jakob Bro.  Bro, then 31, turned in one of his earliest ECM appearances here, and has more recently established himself as a great bandleader on the label.  On Dark Eyes he's an ideal, shadowy foil to Stańko right from the first track.

Fans of latter-day Stańko will know what to expect here - lots of wonderfully languid, slow-burning melancholy, reaching its most exploratory on Samba Nova.  That's one of only two tracks on Dark Eyes to hover around the 10-minute mark though, with most settling for around six, and the lovely late interlude May Sun (sans Stańko) barely three.  So Dark Eyes is certainly a bit of a pull-back from the gargantuan moodpieces of its predecessor Lontano, and it's also an album that can cook, with Terminal 7 positively breezy by ECM Stańko standards.  What it does have in common with Lontano is another look back to Stańko's formative patron, the great Krzysztof Komeda; two in fact this time, in gorgeous renditions of Dirge For Europe and the closing Etuida Baletowa No.3.

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