WasilewskiLyrical and wildly eclectic in its sources, it is as if Wasilewski has seen Tord Gustafsen's route to popularity and is tracing the path with his finger... and a jazz cover of Polish grunge, anyone?

Time: 11 tracks / 73mins.
Label: ECM

I love that feeling of excitement on hearing a new album and being instantly struck by the impression that I'll adore it. That adrenalin rush hit me within a few notes of this album. It has so many similarities to Tord Gustavsen Quartet's style that my enthusiasm burgeoned.

While it was my first listen to Wasilewski, his is not a new name. His trio has been the backing band for highly regarded trumpeter Tomasz Stanko since the '90s (if intermittently). Currently all in their thirties, the trio formed while the players were still in their teens, so the interplay and understanding are now built-in.

This collection begins with a trio of Wasilewski pieces. The first two ("Austin" and "Sudovian Dance") particularly evoking TGQ in their chilled mood; striking, melodious lines; and – in the case of the latter – a soulful bluesiness. Right down to the cymbal work, each of these players' tones matches those of Gustavsen's quartet, except that here the bass is consistently more sedate. The last of the three, the title track, is a tone poem, its title hinting at its embryonic style.

Then the covers begin – and what an eclectic set of sources they are! First comes the polish grunge piece "Do Rycerzy, do Szlachty, do Mieszczan" (although there is nothing grungy about this version apart from the name); an acoustic treatment of Herbie Hancock's "Actual Proof" brings a subtle shift of tone; contemporary classical composer Grazyna Basewisz's "Largo" drifts as largos can; and the band revisits "Sleep Safe and Warm," a Krzysztof Komeda piece from the soundtrack to Rosemary's Baby. They have played it for many years, and guest player Milder cleanly approaches its measured, elegant and silky melody line with his tenor sax, while Wasilewski solos with a great sense of freedom on keys.

It is the centre piece cover track that arguably makes the most interesting listen. The Police's "Message in a Bottle" is played relatively straight, if re-assembled, with a strong left hand adding to the underlying rhythm. Bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz takes a verse, and the short chorus line stands out even if you have been leaving the disc somewhat in the background.

Milder is so integral to this release, that he seems present in more than just five of these tracks. His own piece "Still" sits well with the rest, albeit with more pointed rhythms.

Some of the later tracks sprawl with a purpose, whereas at the end – a Milder-less second take on the title track – it just sprawls.

At well over an hour for a highly melodic and dreamily-paced set of youthful-but-mature jazz, this is great value.

Derek Walker

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