Marcin Wasilewski Trio ‘En attendant’ LP/CD (ECM) 4/5

Recorded just prior to their “Arctic Riff” collaboration with saxophonist Joe Lovano, which was released last year, pianist Marcin Wasilewski, bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michal Miskiewicz continue their long partnership with an ever-evolving series of tunes on their latest release “En attendant”. Interestingly, I had assumed that it was recording with Lovano that had led the trio towards a more exploratory path of music-making, but discovering that this session was recorded before that collaboration suggests the trio were already discovering this road for themselves. I guess for a trio who have been together for so long, a natural evolution takes place through the years.

And so it is, in a similar vein to “Arctic Riff”, that this album blends the trio’s penchant for romantic lyricism, with a more spontaneous, exploratory feel. As one would expect, the music is thoughtful, with a lovely mix of melody and improvisation, as the band find new shapes and textures within these tunes, shaping and cultivating light and dark atmospheres in equal measure.

One thing I’ve noticed with “En attendant”, is the way it grows on me more and more as the album progresses. As I’m already familiar with most of the trio’s previous releases, it somehow feels as though I’m rediscovering the beauty of their playing all over again. There’s an obvious familiarity, some of the tunes having been recorded before, but there’s also a freshness that sparkles with beauty.

“In Motion, parts 1, 2 and 3” all employ a natural feel of new discovery. Gently inquisitive, the trio interact intelligently with one another, sensitively crafting moods and atmospheres filled with different hues and textures, as they explore, shape, and develop exquisite soundscapes. As ever with this multifaceted Polish trio, there are some lovely surprises to be enjoyed. The deceptive simplicity of Bach’s “Variation 25” from the Goldberg Variations, suits Wasilewski’s deft touch like hand-in-glove. He brings a warmth and subtle passion to this piece. Carla Bley’s “Vashkar” is a tune that gets plenty of interpretations from artists, and the trio give a wonderful rendition here. One of my own personal favourites, Wasilewski’s “Glimmer of Hope” gets a reworking, and it is just as beautiful as it ever was. Over the years the trio have become well-known for some of their interpretations of pop songs, Bjork’s “Hyperballad” and The Police’s “Message in a Bottle” being two that spring immediately to mind. The Doors’ classic “Riders on the Storm” continues that legacy, with the trio taking a laid-back approach to this old favourite. I do like the vibe on this very much, with Wasilewski refraining from using Ray Manzarek’s signature riff until the very end of the tune, but I do wonder what this could sound like, maybe in a live setting, if the trio really broke free of any shackles and really went for it on this piece.

“En attendant” can only add to the trio’s reputation for making patient, consistently brilliant and enthralling music. Undoubtedly one of the best piano-led trios in Europe for a good number of years now, where this album perhaps lacks a little fire, it smoulders beautifully, with a gorgeous, captivating glow.

Mike Gates

Read also:
Marcin Wasilewski Trio with Joe Lovano ‘Arctic Riff’ 2LP/CD (ECM) 4/5
Marcin Wasilewski Trio ‘Live’ 2LP/CD (ECM) 4/5