Marcin Wasilewski Trio - Joe Lovano: Arctic Riff

Karl Ackermann By

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Marcin Wasilewski Trio - Joe Lovano: Arctic Riff
The Marcin Wasilewski Trio has been reliably consistent in their twenty-five years together. Still in their teens when they recorded their debut, Komeda (GOWI Records, 1995), the Polish trio—then known as The Simple Acoustic Trio—came to the attention of their country's iconic trumpeter Tomasz Stanko who signed them on to complete his quartet. They appeared together on three of Stanko's most successful ECM releases: Soul of Things (2001), Suspended Night (2003), and Lontano (2005). As a trio (under both names) pianist Wasilewski, bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michal Miskiewicz have released ten previous albums, the last six also on the ECM label. Arctic Riff is their first album of new material in six years.

A mini-tradition has developed in the Marcin Wasilewski Trio formation; Spark of Life (ECM, 2014) featured tenor saxophonist Joakim Milder and Arctic Riff is co-led by saxophonist Joe Lovano. The album opens with the sumptuous "Glimmer of Hope," Wasilewski's narrative laced with European classicism and Lovano countering with his rich, soulful sax. Carla Bley's "Vashikar"—the only cover piece on Arctic Riff—is presented in two variations, both being penetrating and insightful. The quartet demonstrates their wide range, establishing a loose and free approach on the brief "A Glimpse," and the hauntingly beautiful "Fading Sorrow." The latter number features a standout solo from Kurkiewicz.

Wasilewski's group has not yet built up the U.S. following of some recent acoustic piano trios such as those of Brad Mehldau, Bobo Stenson or the late Esbjorn Svensson. It may be attributed to MWT's intangible qualities. Their harmonic palette is generally unassuming, the expressive and rhythmic freedom, a seamlessly executed fit. Lovano's tenor adds breadth without forcing the trio into dramatic alterations; they remain enthusiasts of combined groove, lyricism, and vitality. Arctic Riff is powerful in its subtle way.

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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