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Album Review

Marcin Wasilewski Trio & Joe Lovano: Arctic Riff


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Marcin Wasilewski Trio & Joe Lovano: Arctic Riff
Like standing before a frozen lake as it becomes a palette for the morning sun, "Glimmer of Hope" ripens swiftly, deftly into an illuminating, direly-needed respite from the mourning that has besieged listeners. Ecstatically, it is just the preface to Arctic Riff's expansive beauty.

As if conjured from mist, pianist Marcin Wasilewski's contented, yet curious rubato, ellipses through a few random tonalities, its sole purpose being to create an active space for his long trusted rhythm section—bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michal Miskiewicz—along with guest/co-leader, saxophonist Joe Lovano, to create without hindrance, but with restraint. And it is that cultured reserve wherein each player is entrusted to reveal, in the shimmer of a thousand diamonds at your feet, that all our potential is well within our grasp.

Recorded in August 2019, Arctic Riff evinces pure proof that poets and artists imagine and interpret the future because their chosen manner of expression is so rooted to the voice of humanity's past. A gifted joint effort, Arctic Riff speaks in the glorious language of ECM piano trios long cherished and too numerous to list here. "Glimmer of Hope" displays a traditionally agile soulfulness as Lovano's profound, reverberant voice rises above the trio's inventive grace. Both versions of Carla Bley's "Vashikar" finds the whole ensemble probing Bley's subversively thematic implications as well as their own interior dialogues.

The spontaneous "Cadenza" swells from a wealth of scampering whispers—Miskiewicz, Kurkiewicz, and Lovano—into a solid union of spectral designs which Wasilewski melodically takes command of. "Fading Sorrow" is an evocatively atmospheric thumbnail of the music the trio has created since its high school inception in 1993. Its many gorgeous tonal textures become an exquisite playground for Lovano to play in. "Arco" emanating from Kurkiewicz, of course, conjures darkness and light, with Lovano responding to both with vibrant empathy.Two miniature visitations, the bluesy "Stray Cat Waltz" and shape-shifting "A Glimpse" display how focused and open the four can be. Lovano's "On the Other Side" posits a vigorous exchange of ideas between various trio formats and somehow wonderfully sets up "Old Hat," Wasilewski's closing old-school ballad referencing Lovano's love of vintage headgear.

Track Listing

Glimmer Of Hope; Vashkar; Cadenza; Fading Sorrow; Arco; Stray Cat Walk; Lamour Fou; A Glimpse; Vashkar (var.); On The Other Side; Old Hat.


Marcin Wasilewski: piano; Slawomir Kurkiewicz: bass, acoustic; Michal Miskiewicz: drums; Joe Lovano: saxophone.

Album information

Title: Arctic Riff | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: ECM Records

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