Marcin Wasilewski trio, In Motion Pt 1, ECM *****

A track of the day and for the ages: More Bill Evans-like and thus deeper than ever journeying to the urge within, the world class Wasilewski trio have been around since the 1990s and are one of the most successful jazz acts from Poland in …

Published: 22 Aug 2021. Updated: 27 days.

mwt

A track of the day and for the ages: More Bill Evans-like and thus deeper than ever journeying to the urge within, the world class Wasilewski trio have been around since the 1990s and are one of the most successful jazz acts from Poland in decades. Known as Tomasz Stańko's band in the early-2000s and so beautiful with the master on albums such as the 2002 classic Soul of Things they go way back as a unit to when they were the Simple Acoustic Trio. Wasilewski has an austere eye and sometimes that severity can overbalance too much. With Stańko you always got that frontman passion and the trio were a foil to that extravagant bravura side of the much missed trumpeter. And yet Wasilewski certainly on this track displays the overt expression that you sense is there even when he goes oblique and introverted and surfaces on some of the trio's albums as well but is often carefully hidden away within the pristine and so private to him harmonic mastery that he has always displayed, the subtle chord progressions and such elegance. Sławomir Kurkiewicz on double bass and Michał Miśkiewicz on drums often draw him out and that happens here. But what is also beautiful is an accommodation of the sense of retreat and the sheer space within the arc of the piece that Wasilewski creates like a clearing in the woods, a single splash on water. A marvel, as shards of melody from the piano suggest fertile ideas, bass and drums finish these sentences and you hear rumbles that Chick Corea might well have run with summoned from a place of the imagination that only this trio knows. Drawn from studio album en attendant recorded at La Buissonne in France two summers ago and which includes music by Bach, Carla Bley and slightly incongruously The Doors the album is out on 10 September. Michał Miśkiewicz, above left, Marcin Wasilewski, Slawomir Kurkiewicz

Read this 2014 Wasilewski interview conducted around the time of the release of their earlier masterpiece Spark of Life

Tags:

Letters to Gil: A Memoir, Malik Al Nasir

There are so many layers in Malik Al Nasir's Gil Scott-Heron memoir it's not easy to concentrate on one. But there's more than a neat summary could do justice to and that's what makes the book so compelling. On one level there is Al Nasir's …

Published: 21 Aug 2021. Updated: 28 days.

Next post

0_JS189248105

There are so many layers in Malik Al Nasir's Gil Scott-Heron memoir it's not easy to concentrate on one. But there's more than a neat summary could do justice to and that's what makes the book so compelling. On one level there is Al Nasir's breakthrough moment, Mark Watson as he was, when he first got to know the great poet-singer Scott-Heron, blagging his way in to meet the performer after a gig. That's colourful and warm, how this Liverpool lad became part of Scott-Heron's touring set-up. Then there's the deeper stuff, actually far more interesting, the broader autobiography, how Malik, as he became when he converted to Islam inspired by Jalal of the Last Poets, grew up in a number of shocking care homes and how later he successfully sued Liverpool social services for redress.

Then there's the fascinating seafaring exploits going ''deep sea'' to far-flung parts of the world as a steward and cook. And then ultimately how he turned his life around partly through converting to Islam, getting an education, the whole thing going back to meeting Scott-Heron.

The author was only 9 when he was taken into care and the book tells a story of empowerment and awakening in the highlighting of how institutional racism can debilitate and disadvantage a child. It is also a powerful story of radical change and personal enlightenment, against all odds with no safety net, both through his interest in Islam, educating himself partly inspired by the black American experience, and perhaps most of all by a burning anger at the way the system stigmatised underprivileged black Britons such as himself in the deeply demoralising years that were Thatcher's Britain.

Malik's poet's ear makes the leap into the rhythms of his candid and vivid prose an easy progression and given the magnetism that he clearly displays I only hope that he will find time to be a new leader for the UK jazz movement as jazz looks ahead to a future where a good many issues still need tackling and where jazz in its many forms can continue to connect as a healer, teacher and inspiration to help erase some of the obstacles he encountered and which younger generations coming through still have to face. Voices such as his are certainly needed.

His story is a wake-up call. In meeting Scott-Heron and discovering the transformative capability of the power of music even bearing in mind the harsh business realities he witnessed on the road Al Nasir's remarkable story proves once again the adage that music, not to forget an iron determination to overcome adversity and personal bravery, is certainly the healing force of the universe. SG

Published by Williams Collins (hardback, 306pp) on 2 September. On the eve of publication Malik and The O.G.'s perform a tribute to Gil Scott-Heron at the Jazz Cafe, London.

Malik Al Nasir, top left in 1988, with Gil Scott-Heron