Almost inevitably introduced as a young emerging jazz trio on the Polish and international scene, the Marcin Wasilewski Trio have nonetheless been on the road for 25 years and 2019 marks the trio’s silver jubilee anniversary. Comprised of Marcin Wasilewski on piano, Slawomir Kurkiewicz on bass and Michal Miskiewicz on drums, the trio was formed in the early 1990s when the musicians met as students. They subsequently formed The Simple Acoustic Trio and released their first record in 1995. Released on 14th September 2018 last on ECM Records, Live is the trio’s long awaited fifth album and first live recording.

Marcin Wasilewski Trio - Live (2018)
Marcin Wasilewski Trio – Live (2018)

Marcin, Slawomir and Michal would like to give special thanks to Tomasz Stańko for inspiration as well as precious and unique experience in music.

The black and white street photograph on the album cover depicts three silhouettes walking on the pavement. A man in the foreground is wearing a black felt hat. This is more than likely a subtle visual tribute to trumpet player and Polish jazz legend Tomasz Stańko who was often photographed wearing a black hat. The musician sadly passed away in July 2018 last, a few months before the release of Live. The record is explicitly dedicated to Tomasz Stańko in the liner notes.

Very early in the trio’s career, the trumpet player became a mentor to the three young musicians who integrated his working band from the mid-1990s onwards. Extensive touring as the Tomasz Stańko Quartet ensued for the following 15 years, recording Soul of Things (2002), Suspended Night (2004) and Lontano (2006) in the process, all for the ECM Record label.

The trumpet player’s fluid and avant-garde style had a huge influence on the trio’s artistic development. So had the music of fellow citizen, pianist and composer Krzysztof Komeda – to whom the trio dedicated an entire album in 1995 – as well as all of Keith Jarrett’s Standards Trio records.

Recorded in August 2016 at Jazz Middelheim, Antwerp in front of an audience of 4,000, Live features mainly tracks from their Spark of Life release. But as the 2014 record also headlined Swedish saxophonist Joakim Milder, the live versions refocus all the compositions around the dynamics of the original trio. All tracks were composed by Marcin Wasilewski, bar Herbie Hancock’s “Actual Proof” and The Police’s “Message in a Bottle”. “Austin” was written as a tribute to Austin Peralta, a young American jazz pianist who passed away at the young age of 22 in 2012. With its unusual time signature, “Night Train to You” was initially released on their 2011 record Faithful.

“Studio work is quite a hermetic process,” says Marcin, “but with a crowd of this size you have to project more energy”. As a result, tracks like the seven minute “Message in a Bottle” in its studio version for instance expands to nearly eleven minutes in the live recording where the band’s electrifying two-way communication with the audience is palpable.

As an “important document” in the history of the band, Live showcases the Marcin Wasilewski Trio in all its spirited and melodic exuberance.