Introduced to the world by trumpet star Tomasz Stanko, Marcin Wasilewski’s piano trio is becoming hailed as a world-class unit in its own right. ECM record-buyers love their albums and believe fame would have come sooner had these Polish musicians not borne such difficult names for Western Europeans. To some British shoppers, Wasilewski, Slawomir Kurkiewicz (double-bass) and Michal Miskiewicz (drums) read like the bottom line of an optician’s test-card.
Jazz, though, is a global language and these three speak it with exceptional fluency and eloquence. Developed from the last great Miles Davis acoustic quintets, with bows to the trios of McCoy Tyner and Keith Jarrett, their music converts rigid form into glorious freedom in the most sophisticated way. Delicate yet hard-swinging, their time-feel is somehow loose yet tight.
Stanko, himself a master improviser, commented recently that after seven years they are still getting better. Last night there was not the slightest sign of staleness. Indeed, they were clearly enjoying trying to read each other’s minds. On originals new (The Cat) and old (The First Touch) the interplay of sonorous bass, probing piano and discreetly rumbling drums was remarkably intuitive. On an altogether deeper level, too, than similar lineups involving Brad Mehldau, the late Esbjorn Svensson or the Bad Plus.
Wasilewski is grievously underrated. His touch is light yet his notes sing with mysterious gravitas. His ideas are complex yet direct, a pleasure for any listener to follow. In his world the yin and yang of jazz both have their place. Quite an achievement.
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By Jack Massarik, Evening Standard