When Tomasz Stanko won the European Jazz Prize in 2002, the jury declared: “Stanko has developed a unique sound and personal music that is instantly recognizable and unmistakably his own... A world-class player, a stylist, a charismatic performer and original composer, his music now assuming simplicity of form and mellowness that comes with years of work, exploration and experience. Tomasz Stanko – a true master and leader of European jazz.” Stanko’s ECM discs, beginning with “Balladyna” in 1975, were all distinguished by a remarkably sustained creative level. In the 1990s, his work reached a new level of public recognition through recordings such as “Litania”, his tribute to film music composer Krzysztof Komeda and “From the Green Hill” – which won the German Critics Prize as Album Of The Year in 2000.
With “Soul of Things” Stanko hit a new level of international popularity, touring the world with his young Polish quartet.
In 2005 Stanko’s “Suspended Night” won the Australian Bell Award as Best Jazz Album of the Year. “Lontano” similarly met with a very warm worldwide press response. The “Soul of Things”/”Suspended Night”/”Lontano” trilogy also put Stanko’s teammates, on the world jazz map, and they have gone on to significant success as an autonomous unit, the Marcin Wasilewski Trio.
Stanko’s long established credentials as mentor come into play also on “Dark Eyes” as he draws inspired performances from this new young band of Finns and Danes, each of whom will be important for the shape of jazz to come.
Pianist Alexi Tuomarila studied classical music at the Espoo Music Institute in Finland, and jazz at the Brussels Royal Conservatory.
A competition winner since 1999 when he won both best ensemble and best soloist prizes at the international Jazz Hoeilaart competition in Belgium, he has also received first prizes from the Monaco and Tremplin competitions. Has recorded several well-received albums for Warner Finland. “I’m excited about the future of this piano player” – Brad Mehldau.
Drummer Olavi Louhivuori, 28 years old, has already played with Anthony Braxton, Marilyn Crispell, Susanne Abbuehl, Kenny Wheeler and many other international improvisers. A thoroughly musical percussionist, alert to tonal as well as rhythmic implications, Louhivuori played violin, piano and cello before moving to drums. also leads his own band,.
Danish guitarist Jakob Bro is one of the most highly regarded of the younger jazz players. Lee Konitz, Bill Frisell, Paul Motian and Ben Streetz all guested on his most recent album, while Joe Lovano and Tom Harrell joined him for recent Copenhagen performances. In Stanko’s band he offers focussed and subtle sound-colouration as well as filigree soloing.
Bassist Anders Christensen has worked extensively with Paul Motian, recorded also with George Garzone and Steve Kuhn, and toured the world as a member of Velvet Underground-inspired rock band the Ravonettes.
This, then, is Tomasz Stanko’s new ‘nordic’ quintet...