The Marcin Wasilewski Trio's seventh ECM album traverses material by such disparate composers as J.S. Bach, Carla Bley and The Doors and brings it all together in a seamless package which also includes three spontaneously created group improvisations. It is a beauty.
Pianist Marcin Wasilewski, bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michal Miskiewicz have been playing together for almost thirty years, first as the Simple Acoustic Trio, then as three-quarters of trumpeter Tomasz Stanko's Quartet, then under Wasilewski's name. It shows. The musicians operate as one while passing the baton between each other, sometimes as often as every bar or two. Few groups could stay together for so long without getting set in their ways, but somehow this one has.
En Attendant opens with the first of the three group improvs, "In Motion (Part 1)," which, like "Part 11" and "Part 111," spins on a dime between the reflective and the assertive. "Variation No. 25," from Bach's "Goldberg Variations," follows. Jacques Loussier, bless him, this is not. Neither is it as radical a reimagining as Cecil Taylor might have brought to the piece. Time is stretched and new emphases found but the topline stays pretty much intact.
Carla Bley's evergreen "Vashkar," first recorded by Paul Bley's trio with bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Pete La Roca on Footloose (Savoy) in 1963, is similarly reshod and zooshed. More to the wonder, so is The Doors' schlub grinder "Riders On The Storm," from the Sunset Strip miserabilists' L.A. Woman (Elektra, 1971). What next for Wasilewski, Kurkiewicz and Miskiewicz? The title track off Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (Atco, 1968)? En Attendant includes just one pre-composed inhouse original, "Glimmer Of Hope," previously heard on Arctic Riff (ECM, 2020), the album the group recorded with saxophonist Joe Lovano. Well titled, Wasilewski's tune transmits an inner glow, and it is good to hear it in trio form. By the time the last notes of "In Motion Part 111" have faded way, just over 43 minutes have flown by (as in leave them wanting more).
In Motion Part 1; Variation No. 25; Vashkar; In Motion Part 11; Glimmer Of Hope; Riders On The
Storm; In Motion Part 111.
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In addition to writing and editing for All About Jazz, Chris is editor of the British style/culture/history magazine Jocks&Nerds and consultant Afrobeat historian for Google Arts & Culture and Partisan/Knitting Factory Records.