Pavel Morochovic Trio ‘Awakening’ (Hevhetia) 4/5

pavel-morochovic-trioSome people are quick learners. Slovakian pianist Pavel Morochovic is one of them. Having not even decided to take up the piano until he was 19, and to produce such an accomplished debut album as this in such a short space of time is quite incredible. “Awakening” features 8 original tracks that fluently incorporate interconnected themes and motifs interwoven with jazz, classical and world music backdrops. Fellow Slovakian musicians join Morochovic, with Martin Valihora on drums and Juraj Griglak on bass. 2 tracks also feature violinist Ivan Dimitrov. “When writing and arranging my compositions for Awakening,” says Morochovic, “I felt freedom as never before as the trio consisted of such great musicians who really liked my music and contributed a great deal to the project.” This recording is in fact the first project the trio have worked on together, another reason for marking this release as something special, and the start of something exciting for Morochovic and co.
The opening tune “Inferno” begins in abstract mode before breaking out forcefully into a jazz/funk fusion piece that drives incessantly. Griglak plays electric bass, hamming up the funky vibe and working perfectly with Valihora’s modernistic Luke Flowers-esque drumming. The pianist takes the tune in many directions, and it is the variations within the main theme that make it work so well. One can hear an element of classical training in there, but it is undoubtedly Morochovic’s jazz chops that ring out and shine brightly. Tracks 2, 3 and 4 are effectively a 3 part suite. Entitled “Renaissance 1/2/3”, part 1 is “Awakening” and is much more old school in feel, with Griglak now switching to double bass, the drums singing a more traditional song and some beautiful jazz chords from the pianist leading us into the tune itself. As the piece progresses I am reminded of other wonderful European piano-led jazz trios such as EST and Marcin Wasilewski Trio. There’s a splendid unity from the threesome here, suggesting an immediate rapor in their playing as a lyrical bass solo gives way to some tender moments from the pianist. The 2nd part of the suite “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” has a spiritual feel to it, with some wonderful production as the tune develops. It builds and then drops back allowing a cool bass to lead the pianist into some wonderfully jazzy explorations before taking us back into the main theme. A backdrop of superb, powerful and intuitive drumming helps lift the trio to new heights. A sparkling lyricism and dynamism is at the heart of Part 3 of the suite, “Paradise”. Its recurring theme is interspersed with some lovely melodic musings and playful invention. A kind of jazz/classical hybrid if there ever were such a thing, the pianist’s playing here being so confident and inventive. “The Ballad – Home” is a more thoughtful piece, reminiscent of a tender Keith Jarrett composition, evoking memories of the Jarrett, Peacock, DeJohnette Standards Trio. The interplay from the trio is striking, drums and bass adding to the sensitivity and melody in a clever, cool way that somehow manages to personify what is so great about European Jazz. The added violin adds a serene beauty to this lovely piece of writing. “Vicious Circle” dares to be bold. Its twisting, forthright theme allowing the pianist true freedom to express himself. A voice appears towards the end of the track resulting in the final words “Seize the day and liberate yourself”. And one gets the sense this is exactly what Molochovic is doing here, through the writing, performing and releasing of this album. There’s a warm Brad Mehldau feel to “Waltz for Nicole”, a tune that summons the jazz history of the 40’s and 50’s whilst successfully incorporating a modernistic twist. The pianist’s fingers dance a light, breezy, slightly melancholic tune, with a welcoming violin drawing out the waltz. The final track “What Else” is a playful jazz/blues that gradually builds into an anthemic piece that once again provides us with a perfect example of how tightly-knit this trio are.

The turning point in Molochovic’s music career was meeting musician and producer Ivan Dimitrov in 2011, who came up with the idea of making this debut release featuring bassist Juraj Griglák and drummer Martin Valihora. Dimitrov not only initiated the recording but helped to produce it, giving great support to this project. And so as listeners we are indebted to this man, and also thankful that Morochovic was bold enough to pursue his musical career, rather than sticking with his parent’s initial wishes for him to study economics! This album should hopefully be another turning point for the pianist who, together with his trio, show a huge amount of promise. Let’s hope they get the exposure and breaks they deserve and continue to grow in stature. There is potential here for this trio to become one of Europe’s leading lights in the jazz world for years to come.

Mike Gates