Friday, December 5, 2014

Marcin Wasilewski Trio with Joakim Milder, Spark of Life

Things can get going over in Europe to the extent that those of us in the States who aren't completely on top of what's happening there can find something fully flowered and in full strength when we are just getting to pay full attention to an artist or group. I find myself in that situation with Polish pianist Marcin Wasilewski and his trio. It's Marcin, Slawomir Kurkiewicz on double bass and Michal Miskiewicz on drums.

Here they are with their fourth ECM release, Spark of Life (ECM B0021718-02), joined by special guest Joakim Milder on tenor, a Swede with a post-Garbarekian sensibility that goes well with the trio.

The group has been around since the '90s, including tenure as part of Tomasz Stanko's outfit. So there is a Polish lyricism that has affinity with Stanko's later work, plus a love of the Polish icon Komeda, shown here by their nicely done cover of his "Sleep Safe and Warm" from Rosemary's Baby. Other than that there is a good mix of originals and unusual covers, from Sting and Herbie Hancock onwards.

The trio interacts in excellent fashion, showing mutual empathy and togetherness that is in part a matter of their long association, in other parts a matter of their mutual commitment to the lyrical romanticism that comes in its roots out of the Bill Evans-Keith Jarrett nexus.

These are some very subtle players doing deeply tonal harmonic-melodic wizardry that sounds "nice" no doubt to the uninitiated, yet on inspection from those who have listened long to this kind of music, they are filled with all the sophistication and, yes, brilliance of the most classic examples, only their way is theirs. They can get some traction, too, in exciting ways. It isn't all just singing-and-winging along sorts of things.

Milder sounds effective and completely in tune with the trio.

It's a lovely listen and an impressive outing all around. This kind of outfit must be a gas to hear live. But then again all this music is live, in that it lives!

Get an earful of this one if you can.