The Marcin Wasilewski Trio have evolved since their early 1990s beginnings into one of Europe’s foremost jazz trios and, during this opening night concert of the 2016 Edinburgh Jazz & Blues festival, they presented a resoundingly varied and rich set, with the musicians’ exceptional levels of attunement being particularly noteworthy.
Beginning with gentle, precisely articulated melodies, the trio are quick to delve into a calm, receptive zone, with flashes of harmonic complexity signifying how this evening’s music will unfold. The gracefully ageing venue’s flickering wall lights barely distract. Wasilewski, a former pianist with Tomasz Stańko, is now most definitely his own man, leading his trio with accomplishment, juxtaposing western classical-style precision and sensitivity with muscular, in-your-face jazz chops. His multiplicity of variation is perhaps most obvious in his impressively extrapolated version of The Police’s 'Message in a Bottle'.
The pianist is supported with utmost sensitivity by bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michal Miskiewic. Their contributions, while often spare, are pitched just right, and both seize the opportunity to shine during brief solos, as on ‘Three Reflections’, one of several tunes aired from the trio’s 2014 ECM release, Spark of Life.
Wasilewski is clearly a lover of melody, who combines gorgeous chord progressions and harmonisations to stunning effect. In a jazz world where technical virtuosity has become an end in itself, such restrained sensibility is warmly welcomed.
– Fiona Mactaggart