The Individual Beings (April Records)

Tomasz Dabrowski

Released February 11, 2022

DownBeat Five-Star Review




Tomasz Dąbrowski makes his April Records debut with an all-star septet, presenting music inspired by Tomasz Stańko and reflecting on his lasting legacy, lessons learned, and making music on one of the legend’s own storied instruments.
“There are several layers of connection with Stańko,” Tomasz Dąbrowski (b.1984) explains. Both celebrated Polish musicians with the same first name were also wired in similarly creative ways – each forging ahead in their own unmistakable voices on the same instrument (literally the same trumpet… more on that later). Stańko (1942-2018), the recently departed legend, imparted artistic wisdom through his example during their time working together.

In addition to listening to Stańko’s music while growing up in Poland, Dąbrowski had a poster of the jazz titan in his bedroom for years and remembers the first time they met: “He knew who I was… that was very encouraging,” the younger Tomasz says.
This new album is also connected to Stańko in multiple ways. The band was initially created for a concert in Lodz in May of 2020 when Dąbrowski was commissioned to write (and assemble an ensemble to present) new music for the closing concert at the Letnia Akademia Jazzu in Poland that year. He used it as an opportunity to honor his late hero, mentor, colleague, bandmate, and friend. The concert was a success and a recording session was planned for the following year, giving Tomasz time to write and polish new material. The result of the session is the deeply moving and exciting album available to listeners today.

“For a long time, I thought that it was important to be able to play ‘everything’ and make it sound ‘right,’ but after I met Stanko and had some time to reflect on this, I realized that what’s most important is to have your own voice – a voice so strong that it can exist in whatever context you choose and it will still be you,” Dąbrowski shares.
The band’s name and album’s title, Individual Beings, is also a reference to a Stańko quote – taken from Desperado, a print biography available only in Polish – which Dąbrowski translates for us: “I don’t feel lonely. I am an individual being… I am Polish, I was born here, Polish is my main language, I am deeply connected with this land, but most of all I feel I am Tomasz Stańko. Individual Being. I am a unique gathering of atoms, there is no one else like that in the world, in the cosmos. Here I am.”

That resonated deeply with Dąbrowski, who took it even further: “we’re all Individual Beings, and our individuality is the strongest thing we have to offer the world – it has to be protected and developed.”
Dąbrowski has honored that mindset and responsibility throughout his career, and never more so than on this new album. The music on this recording, which he describes among other things as a “search for simplicity,” is brought to life by the trumpeter/composer/arranger and six other musicians – apart from saxophonist Fredrik Lundin (Denmark) and drummer Knut Finsrud (Norway), the rest of the group’s members are Polish or based in Poland (Irek Wojtczak on tenor/soprano saxophone & electronics, Grzegorz Tarwid on grand piano & keyboards, Max Mucha on double bass, and Jan Emil Mtynarski on electric & acoustic drums). Each musician arrived into the bandleader’s life sometime over the last half-decade or so, and was chosen for this project, specifically, for their representation and manifestation of one of the things most important to Dąbrowski: “personality, both on and off stage.”

Finally, there’s the horn. During the recording session for the new album, Tomasz (Dąbrowski) played one of Stańko’s horns – his primary instrument in the 1990s, on which he did some of his best work – on loan from Anna Stańko, daughter of the dear departed. “It gave a lot of power to me,” the bandleader says.
That power can be felt, heard, and celebrated throughout Tomasz Dąbrowski’s first release on April Records – as he and the other six other Individual Beings in a powerful, brilliantly and acutely attuned septet present a program that traverses a vast sonic soundscape. This is the next riveting chapter in the story of a real-time rising star and a mature, reflective homage to a late, great legend. 

Track Listing:

1. JR 06:19

2. Old Habits 05:10

3. In Transit 03:36

4. Sandy 06:06

5. Troll 06:41

6. Queen of Mondays 04:21

7. Short Gesture 05:08

8. Spurs of Luck 04:25


Tomasz Dąbrowski: trumpet

Knut Finsrud: drums

Fredrik Lundin: saxophone

Jan Emil Mlynarski: electric and acous – tic drums

Max Mucha: bass

Grzegorz Tarwid: piano, keyboards

Irek Wojtczak: tenor and soprano saxophone, electronics

Produced by Tomasz Dąbrowski and Michał Kupicz
Recorded by Michał Kupicz
Mixed by Michał Kupicz
Mastered by Kæv Gliemann
Photos by Filip Ćwik (front) and Sisi Cecylia (back)
Liner Notes by Peter Margasak, DownBeat
Cover design by Enrico Andreis


Like his mentor Tomasz Stanko, the Polish trumpet visionary Tomasz Dąbrowski prefers to work without a safety net. The Individual Beings is a fitting homage to the late Stanko on which Dąbrowski plays Stanko’s own trum – pet. And while Dąbrowski is the star, six other musicians — four Polish, two Scandinavian — help celebrate this dazzling testament to individuality. Each of these eight Dąbrowski originals creates its own universe. “JR” sets the stage. Percussion launches it, then Dąbrowski steps in confidently, followed by saxes all state – ly and bright, coiling and uncoiling, the mix ever denser. Max Mucha’s bass seizes the spotlight, spurring free percussive inter – play that builds into an ominous soundscape blending electronics and piano. Melody suc – cumbs to atmosphere as the tune clusters and vibrates. Consider “Sandy.” Keyboardist Grzegorz Tarwid unfurls it, all chiming and pensive, giving way to burred, subtle Dąbrowski. Tawid anchors “Sandy” as its texture amass – es, percussion loping irregularly beneath the chording of the winds. Saxes and trum – pet accelerate against the deliberate percus – sion and Tawid’s regulatory piano. The tune deconstructs midway only to reassemble, this time packing attitude in saxophone bleats protesting thunderous drums. It unwinds loud and argumentative, saxes and a muffled Dąbrowski attempting to block the rhythm section. That doesn’t work, and that’s just fine. On “Troll,” Irek Wojtczak’s alto saxophone gives Tawid a worthy opponent. Like many tracks, this is about tension — until Dąbrowski enters halfway through, a kind of peacemaker who, buttressed by Mucha’s bass, gives the tune focus even as it increases in intensity. Mlynarski’s electric drums pop. Such a fearless band.

Carlo Wolff (DownBeat)