August 26, 2018
The Jig is Up
WhyPlayJazz WP JO43
Tomasz Dąbrowski Ad Hoc
Relatively established beyond the Polish border, Copenhagen-based trumpeter Tomasz Dąbrowski is part of many aggregations in Scandinavia, Germany, his native Poland, and now Japan. With a delivery that adds dissonant elements to modern mainstream, his adaptability is shown on these discs, which demonstrate his pensive (Strings) and playful (The Jig is Up) sides.
Formed when the trumpeter first visited Japan, the quartet playing String’s eight Dąbrowski composition is filled out by Hiroshi Minami, house pianist for Tokyo’s Pit Inn and who has recorded with Kasper Tranberg; Hiroki Chiba on bass and. electronics, who has played with Jim O’Rourke; and drummer Tsuboi Hiroshi, who often works with Takako Yamada. A debut album, Strings is a little rough around the edges, but soon hits its stride. Initially as on “Larry”, with its nightclub-lite descending piano chords, Dąbrowski seems to be channeling Chet Baker. Luckily both he and Minami think better of this maudlin drift before the tune is finished, and he begins sourcing high-pitched brass notes that flow over the pianist’s reflective textures.
More intense are the subsequent “It’s Just Dots” and “Cracov”, enlivened by Hiroshi’s shuffles and bell slapping, as the repetative chording slows down to back dark, muted trumpet growls. Extended to “Cracov”, the initial adagio pace speeds up into andante, with clip-clops from Minami, widening the dynamic mode to encompass brassy flutter tonguing and sign off with pedal-pressed low notes. These kinetic elaborations continue in the same vein during the rest of the disc, with “Barefoot” particularly memorable in that here the sophisticated keyboard sweeps are matched by cymbal splashes and variable wave form rattles from Chiba’s electronics.
Putting solemnity aside, The Jig is Up features 10 compositions by Danish drummer Kasper Tom Christiansen, played by this sometime working group, featuring Dąbrowski, Danish bassist Andreas Lang and veteran German bass clarinetist Rudi Mahall. A line-up like this, especially with Mahall, who is known for his humor, means that harshness is eschewed throughout. Modern, post-modern and traditional in varying degrees, Fusk comes across as a mutation of the first Gerry Mulligan quartet, the Ornette Coleman group with Don Cherry and a marching band. The Coleman-Mulligan mixture is noticeable as early as “Circles”, the first track, with contrapuntal and broken chord harmonies. Some tracks are even more conventional as when the horn harmonies that begin “Blacklisted” threatened to turn into “When You Wish upon a Star” before righting themselves with inner-directed grace notes from the trumpeter and some flowing snorts from the clarinetist.
Working reed peeps, and brass lowing into layers and patterns, this frolicsome interface is invested in most of the other track with references to Texas R&B, West Coast Cool and in the build-up to “Song for Otto”, Lang’s plucked rhythm suggested a TV Cop show theme, subverted into a chromatic swinger with drum hi-hat chings and the horn’s double tonguing. Long-lined trumpet grace notes enliven “Pennies”, as Mahall’s reed peeps flow from coloratura to chalumeau with slap bass and drum pops contributing to the ambulatory feel. This same concept closes out The Jig is Up with similar vibrant textures on the extended “Minervois”.
Well modulated and not afraid to have fun, the performances on this CD confirm Christiansen’s composition and arrangement skills, with each quartet member contributing to the buoyant mood. Meanwhile String allows you hear another side of Dąbrowski’s talents.
Track Listing: Strings: 1. Strings 2. Larry 3. It’s Just Dots 4. Cracov 5. Too Early for Tassel 6. Seven Months of Questions 7. Barefoot 8. Amager
Personnel: Strings: Tomasz Dąbrowski (trumpet, mutes); Hiroshi Minami (piano); Hiroki Chiba (bass. electronics) and Tsuboi Hiroshi (drums)
Track Listing: Jig: 1. Circles 2. The Jig Is Up 3. Happy New Year 4. Blacklisted 5. Pennies 6. Politics 7. I Play Tennis and Blues 8. Song for Otto 9. Dyrk Dild 10. Minervois
Personnel: Jig: Tomasz Dąbrowski (trumpet); Rudi Mahall (bass clarinet); Andreas Lang (bass) and Kasper Tom Christiansen (drums)