Polish pianist and composer Leszek Możdżer, best known for his solo re-imaginings of Chopin (released 1994 on Polonia Records), has since 2005 carved into the soil of jazz a significant river in trio with bassist Lars Danielsson and percussionist Zohar Fresco. The Time represents the group’s first studio outing, and the results are nothing short of enchanting. With a blend of lyricism and space that should appeal to fans of ECM’s many European traversals, Możdżer and Company put their all into every tune.
Among those tunes, Danielsson’s provide the skeleton. “Asta” opens the disc in David Darling-like reverie, Fresco’s wordless vocals floating in the spirit of Per Jørgensen, a swath of pollen fanning into open air. With a rare stillness of heart and transcendent core, the trio emotes without any discernible force of thought. Distillations of “Asta” appear twice more throughout the album, each a fantastic reflection, a film caught in repeat. “Suffering” laces muted pianism with cello pizzicati from the composer in a web of teardrops. The disc ends with an outtake of this same track, the laughter of which betrays a light and free spirit behind the shadows.
“Incognitor” is the first track by Możdżer. Along with “Easy Money,” it is among his best-known compositions, and pushes the trio paradigm into the wonders of letting go. Możdżer further displays great faculty for eclecticism, as in the tessellation of “Tsunami,” which twists gentle arcs and Byzantine touches in a helix of calm. The title track, co-written with Fresco, runs with scissors in one hand and, in the other, a page torn from the book of Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin. A likeminded jam aesthetic imbues the trio’s take on “Svantetic.” This one, by the great Krzysztof Komeda, reveals the influence of Tomasz Stanko, with whom Możdżer has worked in the past. It is notable proof of Fresco’s touch as he sets his planets around a sun-spotted center. Both tunes are puzzles of insight.
Also insightful is the band’s rendition of the Nirvana classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” What with the sonorous inner secrets from Danielsson and Możdżer’s deft tracings, the angst of the original melts into a shadow of its former self, even as Fresco’s hand percussion skirts the edges of seizure. Like the wave of clarity that follows a period of suffering, it turns tragedy into a triumph of the spirit.