Steps is Dąbrowski’s first ever duo, and it’s through his enthusiastic exploration of the two-person dynamic that I remember what a difference it makes to have just one other in musical company. I feel as though I can hear his deep inhalations as he falls quiet; the sudden evacuation of trumpet tones leaves just the siren resonance of cymbals and snare hits, which suddenly sound melodious in the absence more explicit tonal direction, while opening up melodic quiet as a device exclusively under Dąbrowski’s control. No longer must he dogfight with instruments competing for the same frequency range, or embark a constant undulation of creative dominance that thickens and recedes – the pair sound as though they engage in an unflinching eye contact throughout, undistracted in their gradual familiarisation of every micro-expression, every wrinkle, while exploring the dramatic tilts in balance that can occur when just one of them falls silence or tumbles into a different mood.
The fluidity of Sorey and Dąbrowski doubles in effect when the pair play simultaneously. Dąbrowski’s switches between notes with a grace that assumes no alternative, as though the time channel within which he travels has been carved out for him – his notes are sombre, tipsy and moist with whiskey, and yet the way he turns seemingly angular tonal switches into smooth curves is a rich and muscular technical achievement. Meanwhile, Sorey’s beats often materialise with a woodcutter-esque assertion – each hit an individual pocket of intent, a muscle exertion all of its own – and yet every punctuative moment appears to roll when it lands, turning even dramatic emphasis into the prelude for something else. Even when he starts to splutter and stumble during “Song 5”, his disjointed steps still come off like a haphazard ballet; little eruptions of a hard-rock 4/4 become gateways into a free jazz rainfall patter, and like two kites sharing the burden of bearing and leadership equally, Step reels out without even a nanosecond of misunderstanding.