“Their years together have resulted in an ensemble with an utterly symbiotic creative flow,” observed Don Heckman in the Los Angeles Times, when the Marcin Wasilewski Trio was first making its presence felt on the international jazz scene. The improvisational communication among the players has continued to deepen with the years, along with their range of creative options. En attendant pays testimony to the musicians’ far-reaching imagination and to the ways in which the group’s lucid musical language can integrate influence from disparate sources.
Recorded just prior to their Arctic Riff collaboration with Joe Lovano, En attendant finds Marcin Wasilewski, Slawomir Kurkiewicz and Michal Miskiewicz in thoughtful, exploratory mood. The multifaceted Polish group illuminates a characteristically wide span of music, the scope extending from Bach to group improvisation. On En attendant, collectively created pieces are juxtaposed with Wasilewski’s malleable “Glimmer of Hope”, Carla Bley’s timeless “Vashkar”, The Doors’ hypnotic “Riders on the Storm” and a selection from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations, transformed in the context. Fluidity is the hallmark, allied to the deep listening made possible by more than a quarter-century of collaborative music-making.
The tripartite “In Motion” offers the most thorough account yet of the trio’s capacity for finding forms in the moment, shaping and developing musical structures with a running sense of architectural proportion. “In Motion Part I” gives way to Variation 25 from the Goldberg Variations, a reminder that all roads lead to Bach, eventually. The trio’s take on the minor key aria gently probes its atmosphere of dark passion and encircles its exquisite melody.
Paul Bley’s Footloose! recording of 1963 was where many musicians first learned about Carla Bley as a composer. As Marcin Wasilewski recently noted it “opened the gates to something undiscovered”, including the inexhaustible mysteries of tunes like “Vashkar,” which has become one of the pieces the trio likes to revisit, always finding something new inside it.
Pop and rock cover versions have also long been part of the trio’s story. Earlier recordings have found the group re-contextualising Björk’s “Hyperballad”, Prince’s “Diamonds and Pearls”, the Police’s “Message in a Bottle” and more. The Doors’ iconic “Riders on the Storm” now joins the list, in a subtly unconventional arrangement. While the rhythmic feel here hews to a bubbling groove close to the original, bassist Slawomir Kurkewicz is to the fore for much of the tune, soloing inside the form, while Wasilewski mines the harmonies.
Marcin’s rubato ballad “Glimmer of Hope” moves like the waves, floating its glistening motive through changing tonalities over Michal Miskiewicz’s detailed cymbals and drums.
Marcin Wasilewski and Slawomir Kurkiewicz (both born in 1975) have been playing in trio with Michal Miskiewicz (born 1977) since 1993. The group quickly became an important force on the Polish jazz scene, both in its own right and as three quarters of Tomasz Stanko’s band.
It was with Stanko that they first came to ECM appearing on the acclaimed albums Soul of Things(recorded 2001), followed by Suspended Night (2003), and Lontano (2005). Stanko, who was also a mentor for the trio, enthused, “In the entire history of Polish jazz, we’ve never had a band like this one. I’m surprised by these musicians every day. They just keep getting better and better.”
This sentiment was echoed in the press, with JazzTimes observing, “Marcin Wasilewski does not think like other jazz pianists. His improvisational underpinning, his sense of musical space and his aural imagery are so fresh they are initially mysterious, then get more so. …It takes nerve for a young trio to create music of such stillness, such patience. The fact that the three have played together since they were teenagers is audible in the way they trust the epiphanies they collectively come upon.”
Albums by Marcin Wasilewski, Slawomir Kurkiewicz and Michal Miskiewicz on ECM include Trio (recorded 2004), January (2007), Faithful (2010), Spark of Life (2014, with Joakim Milder), Live (2016), and Arctic Riff (2019, with Joe Lovano). The trio, plus saxophonist Trygve Seim, also contribute to guitarist Jak aob Young’s recording Forever Young (2013). Wasilewski and Kurkuwicz appear, furthermore, on Manu Katché’s albums Neighbourhood (2004) and Playground (2007).
Recorded at Studios La Buissonne in August 2019.
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