Stanko's record company, ECM, has just released January, the trio's second recording for the label, and is sponsoring an international tour to promote it. The group is now called the Marcin Wasilewski Trio, in recognition of the pianist's role as composer, but this remains very much a collaborative effort. Wasilewski and his friends have developed the particular jazz piano trio tradition that goes back, through Keith Jarrett, to Bill Evans. Evans broke with the concept of a piano backed by rhythm accompaniment to create a more collaborative way of interaction, with the bass and even the drums as equal musical partners. But unlike many of his American colleagues, Wasilewski has no interest in imitation; he has assimilated his influences and transformed them in a deeply personal manner. The same can be said of the trio as a whole. Their interaction is seamless and seemingly telepathic, with each instrument playing an equal part. After seventeen years of playing together one would expect no less, but, somewhat surprisingly, this has not led to routine repetition, and the group remains fresh and innovative to this day.
Wasilewski, Kurkiewicz, and Miskiewicz play emotionally complex music, with a preference for slow tempos and slowly developing themes that rely on shifting textures as much as on melodic development. Melodic playing predominates, and even the drums seem more a melodic rather than rhythm instrument, even at fast tempos. As a result, their performances are recitals rather than simply sequences of tunes, and the mood that they create draws the listeners into a unique emotional space and is best heard in small, intimate places. The Firefly Club is an ideal place for them, and they will be performing there on Saturday, May 24.