Oct 30 2018
I sometimes forget that the music of Marcin Wasilewski isn’t always so peaceful. Sometimes he jacks up the voltage. The electric can pack a punch. The pianist and his long-time trio with bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michal Miskiewicz aren’t strangers to intensity. But there’s something special about the way Wasilewski insinuates the idea of serenity upon a particular piece so that it continues to resonate even after the volume rises and a hyperactive motion sets in.
It’s a talent that served him well on his ECM Records debut January, and now, ten years later, he’s only gotten better at it. The effect is even more noticeable on the 2018 release, Live. Because January was, by and large, a lesson in tranquility. The quieter pieces outnumbered their counterparts. But on Live, the trio is revved up and ready to hit the gas pedal. A rendition of Herbie Hancock’s “Actual Proof” and the Wasilewski original “Night Train to You” come bolting right out of the gate. An inspired rendition of The Police tune “Message in a Bottle” chatters at a pace that rivals that of the original, sometimes exceeding it.
But none of those facts erase the impression that this is peaceful music for those quiet moments of the morning, before the city wakes up and the dull roar of people in motion makes its presence felt. When Wasilewski starts the album off with the softest intonations of melody on “Spark of Life,” it carries all the way through. It also gets a bump from the lovely “Three Reflections” and the solemn “Austin,” two pieces that drive home the tranquil atmosphere.
Apparently this wasn’t a purposeful recording. But the performance was captured by a radio station during a live performance at Jazz Middelheim in Antwerp, Belgium. Thankfully, Wasilewski decided to take advantage of that fortuitous discovery, and we get one more reminder of why his music is so damn special.
Your album personnel: Marcin Wasilewski (piano), Slawomir Kurkiewicz (double bass) and Michal Miskiewicz (drums).
Released on ECM Records.
Music from Warsaw, Poland.
Available at: Amazon