Marcin Wasilewski Trio: En attendant (ECM 2677)

Marcin Wasilewski Trio
En attendant

Marcin Wasilewski piano
Slawomir Kurkiewicz double bass
Michal Miskiewicz drums
Recorded August 2019, Studio La Buissonne, Pernes-les-Fontaines
Engineer: Gérard de Haro
Mastering: Nicolas Baillard
Cover photo: Max Franosch
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: September 10, 2021

Although En attendant hit the airwaves after Arctic Riff, the Marcin Wasilewski Trio’s somewhat divisive collaboration with saxophonist Joe Lovano, it was recorded just before that earlier release. With brothers from another mother Slawomir Kurkiewicz on bass and Michal Miskiewicz on drums, the Polish pianist brings more than 25 years of deep listening into the studio for what might just be their most intuitive session to date. I make the latter claim if only because what we have been gifted here is more than a collection of memories in the making; it is a reflection of life’s supernaturally driven purpose to leave something of itself behind as a relic of its passing. Such instincts take their purest form, perhaps, in a subtle arrangement of J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variation 25, the minor-keyed clothing of which reveals major-inflected whispers to be transcribed by the eager ear. That this melody reaches out to us centuries later is just as comforting as Carla Bley’s “Vashkar,” which, despite having decades under its wings, nevertheless spreads its blanket without so much as a bent corner. If jazz was ever to be organized as a novel, this tune would deserve a chapter all its own. As a touchpoint of the trio’s repertoire, it lends itself comfortably to this between-the-lines reading, inked by the quill of Kurkiewicz’s diaristic bassing.

Another calling card is the trio’s penchant for curating gems from the popular canon, and the present take on The Doors’ “Riders On The Storm” is no exception to this ethos. Like a coffee purist who sees latte art as a needless decoration, Wasilewski allows his bandmates to steep the grounds in which the tune’s familiar flavor originates. In anticipation of those dark clouds, Wasilewski’s “Glimmer Of Hope” shines as if it were the last utterance it ever wanted to offer. In this instance, we must submit the pages of our expectations to be erased, rewritten, and sealed by a lyricism so achingly precise that can only wander the train tracks of our collective vanishing point until it, too, ceases to be.

The album is tented by three freely improvised pieces entitled “In Motion.” From their searching vocabularies emerges an answer of sorts to an age-old debate: it was never about the chicken and the egg but about the inhalation and the exhalation. The cycle has always been infinite, and for the duration of a musical disc, we get cosmic blink’s worth of wisdom to revisit whenever we want. Such privilege does not go unrecognized for a single moment, either as performers or as listeners, and how fortunate that we can count ourselves among the living after its wonders have been revealed.

2 thoughts on “Marcin Wasilewski Trio: En attendant (ECM 2677)

  1. Nice review Tyran. I see this album as one made with recordings taken while they were waiting (“en attendant”) for Lovano to arrive for the recording of the Arctic Riff sessions, especially since some of the tunes are the same (Vashkar, Glimmer Of Hope) and much of the rest is free improv.

    Out of interest, why do you describe Arctic Riff as “somewhat divisive”? I didn’t enjoy it much myself, but I hadn’t come across any reviews that shared that opinion.

    1. When that album first came out, I saw fairly split opinions about it in the ECM Records Facebook fan group, so that was what I had in mind when describing it in such terms.

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