“Remembering Tomasz Stańko” – a Free All-Star Memorial Concert for the Late, Great Polish Trumpeter, Composer & Bandleader – Will Be Held at Brooklyn’s Roulette on September 18, 2022

In what would have been his 80th birthday year, Stańko’s life and art will be celebrated in New York City – his spiritual home away from home – by 14 key peers and associates: Ambrose Akinmusire & Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet); Ravi Coltrane, Joe Lovano & Chris Potter (saxophone); Jakob Bro (guitar); Craig Taborn, David Virelles & Marcin Wasilewski (piano); Dezron Douglas, Sławomir Kurkiewicz & Reuben Rogers (bass); and Gerald Cleaver & Michał Miśkiewicz (drums)

“Nobody holds a single, long-blown trumpet note like the Polish pioneer Tomasz Stańko – a wearily exhaled, soberly ironic, yet oddly awestruck sound that is unique in jazz.”

— The Guardian, reviewing Stańko’s final album, December Avenue

Tomasz Stańko – one of Europe’s most original and beloved jazz musicians – was born on July 11, 1942, in Rzeszów, Poland, and he passed away in Warsaw on July 29, 2018. In many ways, his life traced the course of modern jazz in Europe, beginning with his tenure – when barely into his twenties – in the band of the great Polish composer-pianist Krzysztof Komeda. Those formative years included recording on Komeda’s timeless album Astigmatic, released in 1965 and soon recognized as representing a sea change for European jazz. Starting in 1975, Stańko began his association as a leader with the iconic German art-house label ECM Records which would produce a dozen masterful albums up to his final release, December Avenue, in 2017. That recording featured his New York Quartet, a band that reflected the trumpeter’s deep affection for its namesake town and the inspiration he found in New York City’s living history of jazz. To mark what would have been his 80th birthday year, an all-star memorial concert – “Remembering Tomasz Stańko” – will be held at Brooklyn’s Roulette at 8:00pm on September 18, 2022, with tickets free of charge. The event will include musicians who worked closest with Stańko in his last, highly productive decades and others who collaborated with him on special latter-day projects.

Remembering Tomasz Stańko” will include two illustrious soloists on trumpet: Wadada Leo Smith and Ambrose Akinmusire. The night’s revolving cast of musicians will be anchored by the rhythm sections from both Stańko’s New York and Polish quartets: pianist David Virelles, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Gerald Cleaver, from the former; and, from the latter, pianist Marcin Wasilewski, bassist Sławomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michał Miśkiewicz. Stańko discovered the Poles when they were just teenagers; in addition to working as an established trio, they now play with saxophonist Joe Lovano – who will also join them for this event. Guitarist Jakob Bro, who played on Stańko’s Dark Eyes album, will be on hand, as will saxophonist Chris Potter and pianist Craig Taborn – who were part of a special band that Stańko put together for a concert at New York’s Jazz Standard in 2011. Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and bassist Dezron Douglas will also perform; they, along with Virelles, featured in a quintet that recorded POLIN, a suite that Stańko composed for an exhibition at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

Stańko’s intensely lyrical sound and sensibility were easily identifiable, with his tone of Slavic melancholy, his expressive peals and smears, and the noir-ish atmospheres that he liked to conjure in his music. Although he was, above all, a darkly melodic improviser, the trumpeter was as at home playing in Cecil Taylor’s Big Band as he was performing with the likes of Dave Holland, John Surman, Lee Konitz, Gary Peacock, Edward Vesala or Bobo Stenson. “Tomasz Stańko is not the first jazz musician to negotiate a rapprochement between gorgeous melodies and free improvisation,” noted the San Francisco Chronicle. “But he is one of the most eloquent proponents of extemporaneous lyricism working today.” And JazzTimes declared: “Stańko writes melodies that pierce the heart like needles… His pieces are open forms, a few strokes or gestures that introduce a mood and set Stańko into motion. He needs musicians around him who can respond with independent creativity to his unique stimuli.”

Having grown up behind the Iron Curtain, Stańko relied on the Voice of America radio network to connect him to the American jazz scene – and the sounds he heard fostered his dream to someday make it to New York City and experience that scene for himself. It was almost exactly 20 years ago that Stańko finally made it to the U.S. for his first stateside tour, with New York everything he expected it would be. He was so inspired that he kept an apartment in the city for the last decade of his life, so that he could split his time between the Big Apple and Warsaw. Although an innovator in modern European improvisation, Stańko always maintained a strong sense of jazz history. “With Krzysztof Komeda, we would mostly listen to modal music, like Miles Davies and John Coltrane,” he recalled. “This was my inspiration. Ornette Coleman was important, too, of course, as an example of a certain attitude toward art – that of searching and rebellion.” Living part-time in New York also kept Stańko in touch with the ongoing vitality of jazz. “Originally, I just wanted to enjoy New York, the city where so much great jazz history has been made,” he said, but it wasn’t long before the trumpeter was interacting with local players and finding “the fantastic cats” he would work with so fruitfully in his New York Quartet, among other ventures.

New York Times critic Ben Ratliff wrote perceptively about Stańko embarking on the last chapter of his career: “It’s good to see an elder artist chase after a new idea. Until quite recently, Tomasz Stańko specialized in beautiful dirges, and rubato soul-ache ballads with rumblings of free jazz. They came out via a string of fine records for the ECM label over a dozen years or so… But the work has an overall unity of mood and purpose… Both as a soloist and as a bandleader, he can pull off the dark emotions in his music. His trumpet tone is steady and stark, crumbled around the edges, and he makes his strong, short themes anchor the arrangements… Without radically changing the character of his music – he still loves ballads, and still foregrounds a lonely melody – Mr. Stańko is allowing its balances to shift. The music can be hard to define but in an excellent way. It uses steady rhythms and vamps as well as free improvisation… Some extraordinary passages unfold without any of the players making them seem formal, almost as if natural forces were moving the musicians’ hands.”

Among the highlights of Stańko’s capacious discography is his deeply felt and beautifully arranged 1997 tribute Litania: The Music of Krzysztof Komeda, which featured a septet including an old Komeda associate, saxophonist Bernt Rosengren, along with Stenson and guitarist Terje Rypdal. In 2011, the Smithsonian Institution published the six-disc, century-spanning Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology – which, after beginning with the likes of Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong, concludes remarkably with “Suspended Night Variation VIII,” a track from Stańko’s 2004 album Suspended Night. The trumpeter was honored with multiple awards across his career, including the inaugural European Jazz Prize in 2002; the jury stated: “Stańko has developed a unique sound and personal music that is instantly recognizable and unmistakably his own… A world-class player, a stylist, a charismatic performer, and an original composer, his music now assumes simplicity of form and mellowness that comes with years of work, exploration, and experience. Tomasz Stańko – a true master and leader of European jazz.”

Anna Stańko, Tomasz’s daughter and latter-day manager, recalls her father describing New York City as “a modern Rome – a place where all roads lead, especially musically. For him, it’s the place where new trails are blazed in jazz, the place where he wanted to be – and was. He just adored being in New York, walking the streets, experiencing the city, feeling the music in the air. Now, we’ll have the chance to remember him here, one of his favorite places on Earth.” She adds: “Music was the essence of my father’s life, the spice. He felt it so deeply that the language of his art communicated beyond any borders. That’s why we present this free concert here, with these amazing musicians who were like family for my dad.”

“Remembering Tomasz Stańko” is organized by the Tomasz Stańko Foundation thanks to funding from Adam Mickiewicz Institute (culture.pl) and the Kosciuszko Foundation, as well as the support of the Polish Cultural Institute in New York.

[What are you listening to?] … the debut album The Seed encompasses eight aesthetically fresh cross-genre melodies pen and arranged by guitarist Thomas Mitrousis

All eight pieces of this album fluidly shift between moods, textures, and tempos, revealing high levels of musicianship and chemistry.

THE SEED” consists of eight compositions with obvious modern jazz references, as well as influences from classical and post-rock. The cinematic introduction of the opening track “Crossing Lines”, immediately engulfs the audience into the atmosphere of the album.

The compositions create continuous exchanges of emotions and images, retaining undiminished anticipation from the first note to the last. Each piece has a tendency to refer to a different musical genre. “Fax From Fux” contains baroque elements, and “Poisonous Little Flower” moves with an impressionistic mood but all compositions maintain an amalgamated character, due to the common jazz background of the four musicians.

The quartet explores the amazingly broad varieties of timbres and dynamics of the instruments and manages to maintain a sonic diversity with an aesthetically contemporary approach, through the whimsical arrangements.

The pleasure is simple, direct, and completely jazz; it is very well played, and it swings just enough to keep the balance between body and mind. […] ‘The Seed’ is a gratifying surprise.”BESTOFJAZZ

He tends to combine notated context with improvisation, and with his outstanding technical skill, the guitar not only solos but also conducts a creative dialogue with partners.[…]Mitrousis is a new and promising name in the European jazz scene.”-JAZZQUAD

The chemistry of the group is evident. The guitar dialogues with the rest of the instruments and vice versa, enriching the final result, colorful and very, very pleasant.”-La Habitacion del Jazz

The debut offering from Athens, Greece’s Thomas Mitrousis Quartet gives a whirlwind, feet-off-the-ground experience. Leader and guitarist Mitrousis has all the fingerwork to keep the vibe easy even when the drums and brushes are briskly whisking us along. In nine fresh tracks, this CD is a simultaneous exploration into musicians that gel beautifully together while giving the listener the ability to clearly appreciate each one’s specific talent.“-Debbie Burke ~Bandcamp

 

Released: March 21, 2022

Thomas Mitrousis: guitar
Kostas Yaxoglou: piano
Paraskevas Kitsos: double bass
Dimitris Klonis: drums

Recorded in May 2021 at Antart Studios by Nikos Kollias and Yannis Damianos

[Just in case, you missed it]… “Insight”, featuring pianist Giulio Gentilereleased by Auand Records, will be available on CD and on Bandcamp on January 28, 2022

Now an established name in and outside his country, multi-awarded Italian pianist Giulio Gentile has recently focused on exploring the possibilities offered by the trio, along with longtime collaborators Pietro Pancella on bass and double bass, and Michele Santoleri on drums.

They have been essential – Gentile says –, both musically and as human beings, to complete this work. They have always believed in my music, adding the right energy to the project. We’re good friends. At first, we simply met to play something together, and then we developed a repertoire focused on my compositions and arrangements, which led to this trio. Playing with them makes me feel like the trio as one person. There’s a lot of interplay and listening, which I love!»

Insight”, released by Auand Records, will be available on CD and on Bandcamp on January 28, 2022. Singles will be released on all streaming platforms starting on January 14.

Trying to avoid specific shapes, this album works on identity: «The key to this project – Giulio Gentile adds – is about us finding our musical identity. I didn’t limit myself too much when writing these tunes because I believe in composition as freedom. I didn’t wonder if it was “jazz enough” or anything, I simply put down things on paper: ideas that could mirror something about me, trying to find an original sound and leveraging everyone’s strengths.»

Although difficult structures and polyrhythms abound, “Insight” is centered on melody, both in themes and improvisation. And it gets personal. «After writing some of these tunes I realized I put a lot of myself in them: ideas, thoughts, wishes, fears. This is why I picked this title: it’s me trying to communicate my vision through my music. I imagined “Mankind to Earth” as a dialogue between humanity and Planet Earth. Mankind begs for mercy, trying to be forgiven for everything that has been (and is being) done to Earth. And there is a response, in “Earth to Mankind”, which I made more chaotic and rough, insisting on one melody that repeats from beginning to end. This sense of chaos and mess made me think of the inner, stronger, and destructive face of nature, which I tried to convey using a 9/8 clave rhythm.~BandCamp

Released: January 28, 2022

Giulio Gentile – piano
Pietro Pancella – double bass, electric bass
Michele Santoleri – drums

Ivan Radivojević Quartet’s voice ascends with In Plain View the genre bending sound called the New Serbian Jazz Wave

New Serbian Jazz Wave. They call it that. And, for some time now, it has been closely linked with our label. Today it is the turn of Ivan Radivojevic, a young (thirty-one years old) trumpet player from Belgrade, who got noticed by us playing in the combo of Max Kochetov of whom a few months ago we published “Altered Feelings” and previously with Sanja Markovic for the album “Ascension” in 2020. Radivojevic, like every one of his generation, is one who moves in a sprawling way between jazz and hip-hop, passing through forays into reggae, rock, and soul. In short, very modernly his is a synthesis of music that tries to use the most disparate experiences to get to propose something personal.

In “In Plain View” all this is certainly not perceivable in terms of musical proposal: it is his mentality, open to the use of other languages, that strikes us and makes us touch with hand (better with the ear) than in those parts – it seems for some time now – a scene has been developing from which some of the most interesting musicians of this turn of the millennium are emerging. At least in Europe and at least for what concerns jazz as we are used to living it in its most adventurous sense. The trumpeter already boasts a very respectable curriculum having accrued the attendance of prestigious masterclasses with old and young African American lions (from Eddie Henderson, James Moody, and fellow countryman Stjepko Gut to Charles Altura and Joel Ross). “In Plain View” collects complex music – and this does not mean that it is difficult to use – the testimony of a curious mentality, attentive to everything that happens, always at the service of music. The combo is completed by very young musicians from the Serbian scene, all to keep an eye on – and who will soon be talked about. And not just in Serbia. ~Bandcamp

The Band…

Ivan Radivojević – Trumpet,  Andreja Hristić – piano Boris Šainović – double bass Bogdan Đurđević – drums
Guests:
Luka Ignjatović – alto saxophone (Loving You In Reverse) Andreja Stanković – guitar (Slipping Into The Night)

You can also listen below…

Norwegian Keyboardist Jon Balke Celebrates the Concept of Coexistence and Cooperation on Hafla, His Third Album with His Ensemble Siwan

Available April 22 via ECM Records

Hafla is the third album from Norwegian keyboardist-composer-arranger Jon Balke’s Siwan, launched in 2007 as a meeting point for musicians of strikingly different backgrounds and experiences. Siwan celebrates the concept of coexistence and cooperation, making the case for the positive attributes of cultural diversity, as it looks back into history and forwards towards new models for shared work. The legends and the poetry of al-Andalus continue to inspire Balke and company, but this is contemporary music shaped by players who choose to listen, respond and adapt.

Jon Balke brings many musical aspects together in his writing for a unique ensemble that includes an Algerian lead singer, a kemençe player from Turkey, an Iranian master of the tombak, an innovative Norwegian drummer, and an energetic string section of baroque specialists. The interweaving of their creative contributions – in a delicate play of textures, melodies, and rhythms – underlines and envelops verses penned many centuries ago.

The repertoire on Hafla begins with Balke’s setting of lyrics by Wallada bint al-Mustakfi, the free-thinking 11th-century Ummayad princess of Cordoba and the lover of Ibn Zaydun, the great poet of al-Andalus.

“The story of their relationship is legendary,” Balke notes. “And Wallada also wrote some great, short and precise poems. This time, we were looking for poetry descriptive of life as it was lived in that period. Somebody made the observation that the phenomenon of co-existence begins in the neighborhood when someone needs help. It begins in the queue to buy bread. On that kind of basic level. It’s a good perspective, I think.

Composing for Siwan frequently begins with the selection of words to be sung, he explains, as he exchanges ideas with Mona Boutchebak. “Often it’s many processes taking place. I might suggest some poems – perhaps starting from Spanish translations of the words – and then, while walking in Nature, sing or whistle a melody into a recording device. In my home studio, I’ll develop that a bit and send it to Mona who’ll look into the translations and send me back a version sung in Arabic. Checking formal Arabic against dialect versions, and other details. Meanwhile, I’ll start arranging for strings and imagining how the percussion players might work with the material.”

With the musicians coming from diverse traditions, Balke has to be resourceful in his presentation of new pieces. “I’ve had to find ways to write new music for musicians who don’t normally read scores. For the Barokksolistene everything is written down. For the others usually, I record demo versions of the material, with me playing percussion as well as keyboards and sometimes cello, so that everybody has at least a sketch of the songs.”

Already in the Magnetic North Orchestra, the ensemble that was Siwan’s precursor, Balke had drawn inspiration from the sound colors and dynamics of the great Arab orchestras (and in particular the music of Egypt’s Oum Kalthoum) and sought to devise and develop a contemporary equivalent. On Diverted Travels (2004), his collaboration with Bjarte Eike, a baroque violinist also fascinated by the overturning of boundaries, took Balke a step closer to the pulsating chamber music of his imagination. Since then, Eike and his cast of Barroksolistene have been frequent collaborators. Inside present-day Siwan, one of the recurrent pleasures is hearing the ways in which kemençe player Derya Turkan engages with the baroque group, the sound of middle eastern and western string traditions converging or contrasting. “Derya is quite free in his role. He’s deeply rooted in the Ottoman school but also has a great ear for the music of the west and has the ability to adapt and improvise as the music modulates through different keys.”

Equally absorbing is the creative percussion. Helge Norbakken’s idiosyncratic drumming insinuates itself deep into the textural fabric of the music, and the crisp tombak of Pedram Khavar Zamini, which draws upon and extends Persian classical tradition, offers running commentary.

Zamini, Norbakken, and Eike have all been part of Siwan from the outset, but there have been some line-up changes over the years and the first edition – with Amina Alaoui, Jon Hassell, and Kheir Eddine M’Kachiche – set a high bar for musical drama, winning awards including the Jahrespreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik. By the time of 2017’s Nahnou Houm album, Siwan had transitioned from conceptual project to real band, as Balke rallied his instrumental forces around singer Mona Boutchebak.

Mona’s a very creative artist,” Balke emphasizes, “although rather shy about her capacities as a composer and music maker, having grown up singing other people’s songs.” For Hafla, Boutchebak set Ibn Zayud’s poem “Mirada Furtiva” as an elegant ballad: it’s one of the album’s subtle highlights. Boutchebak sings it to the accompaniment of her kwitra, the Algerian oud, and Balke wraps a gently murmuring soundscape around it, like the whispers of the night.

The 2021 recording sessions – at Copenhagen’s Village Recording – called for intuitive solutions, being twice postponed by Coronavirus restrictions and then subject to limitations on the number of musicians permitted to be in the studio at a given time. It was finally recorded in shifts – a session with most of the soloists and Mona, and a second session with Derya Turkan and the string players. Travel bans kept Pedram Khavar Zamini from participating directly: instead, he added his tombak detailing to the work when all other elements were in place. Listening and adapting to the Siwan tradition.

Now, however, the whole ensemble is keen to take to the road. Concerts are currently being finalized, and at several venues, Balke plans to augment the musical performance with a visual presentation, “with video art based upon Islamic geometry.”

More details about the ensemble and Jon Balke can be found at www.siwan.no and www.magnetic.no

Jon Balke’s SiwanHafla
ECM Release Date: April 22, 2022

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Pianist Tord Gustavsen Returns with New Trio Album, Opening, Featuring Steinar Raknes and Jarle Vespestad

Available April 8 via ECM Records

Tord Gustavsen’s album Opening develops the traits and styles explored in his earlier works while introducing a broader spectrum of suppleness and a transformed sense of interplay to the trio’s repertory. It is the first Gustavsen Trio recording with Steinar Raknes on bass and the newcomer feels quite at home supporting his colleagues in the deep end, settling in quickly between Tord’s refined chordal studies and Jarle Vespestad’s delicate stick- and brushwork.

 

There’s a particularly striking openness to the music, marked by spacious improvisations and a tendency to reveal the secrets and melodies at their own pace. “The urge for saying something, be it abstract or lyrical, has to come from within,” Tord reasons. “During the recording of the album, it felt better to do the breathing first, open up the soundscape in more organic ways and let the melody enter when it comes naturally.“

 

Multiple causes may account for the shift in temperament on Opening – the change in the lineup certainly being one of them. Bassist Steinar Raknes establishes a firm counterpoint in the music. “He’s an extroverted bass player, who likes to take center stage, while also being an incredibly supportive and humble accompanist, so he moves very swiftly between background, collective, and soloist roles.” An ideal counterbalance to the variable basslines, Jarle’s percussive rumination acts as a mediator, guiding his fellow musicians through alternating straight-ahead and rubato passages.

 

Here more than ever Tord dwells on minuscule fragments, brief chord chains, and scarce hints of motifs, developing the material patiently: “It’s something I’ve been doing a lot in solo concerts. Having themes just appear out of the dark and disappearing back into a shady undercurrent…

 

In a way picking up where the prior trio album The Other Side left off, album-opening “The Circle“ presents a hymnal refrain, fashioned with a humble design. “I was sitting at the piano and the first four bars just came to me. I worked out and developed the remaining structure deliberately, but more and more I find that the best tunes I’ve written over the years basically just came to me, like gifts. I then have the responsibility to shape the gift, make it grow and turn it into a complete piece”.

 

The trio offers spontaneous moments of dense rubato interplay on “Opening” and “Findings,” the latter of which ends on an instrumental quote of the Swedish folk song “Vis Fran Rattvik,” “It shows that I was listening to the classic Swedish Folk-tune arrangements by the late Jan Johansson, who also happened to be one of the greatest Swedish jazz pianists. I’ve been learning many of his arrangements by heart, just as an exercise and that influence is in evidence here.” These are also the most freely improvised exhibits of the record, as is counterpart “Findings II.” “I really enjoy building these miniatures — it’s something we often do in live situations. It’s about creating a shape, not about free improv in the sense of showing everything you’re capable of doing,”

 

With each song, the trio shifts focus, presenting the reduced, most skeletal shape of composition on “The Longing,” the gentle untangling of melody on “Shepherd Song” and the subtle deconstruction of dance with “Helensburgh Tango” – “to the point where it almost doesn’t qualify as a tango anymore.” Like “Re-opening,” most songs have prescribed harmonic changes and general shapes, “but when to move from one chord or section to the next isn’t pre-composed, but decided between us, in the spur of the moment.”

 

“Stream” uncovers a ‘classic’ piano trio ballad in shape and execution. “Though seemingly counterintuitive, in the studio, our interplay grew densest during Steinar’s solo, then we move into a collective crescendo – both spontaneous decisions that really shed a different light on the track.” “Ritual” follows, seeing Steinar taking the lead with guitar-like treble and Gustavsen being in charge of the lower frequencies, applying subtle electronics in the process.

 

The group goes full circle with the one subject that pulls through Tord Gustavsen’s entire ECM oeuvre, as Opening closes with Norwegian folk themes: “Fløytelåt” (the flute) by composer Gveirr Tveitt and Egil Hovland’s “Vær sterk, min sjel” from the Norsk Salmebok, the Norwegian Hymnal. Instead of stating the obvious and immediately going for the melody, Gustavsen and his accompanists again broach the songs with openness, trading strict organization for thoughtful and effortless improvisation.

 

Opening was recorded in Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo in November 2021 and produced by Manfred Eicher.
Tord Gustavsen Trio | Opening
ECM Release Date: April 8, 2022
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Norwegian Trumpeter and Composer Mathias Eick Returns to Musical Storytelling with When we leave

Available September 24 via ECM

Mathias Eick is among the most immediately recognizable soloists to have emerged from the Norwegian jazz scene, and his wistful trumpet sound and strongly melodic compositions have met with a positive response around the world. When his ECM leader debut The Door was issued in 2008, US magazine JazzTimes described the trumpeter’s tone as “plaintive and spare,” while emphasizing that, “like all good bandleaders, his focus is on the interaction of his musicians. The contrast of his restraint and the energy around him constitutes the album’s driving tension.”

 

Over the years, Eick has focused and strengthened his approach on both fronts, as soloist and ensemble leader, with concepts for the band adjusted to meet the needs of each project, as well as what The Guardian has described as “a cinematic interest in musical storytelling.”

 

Skala (recorded 2009 and 2010), for instance, introduced the two-drummer format, latterly a hallmark of much of Eick’s work. Midwest (2014), a meditation on the voyage of Norwegian music to North America, brought violin into the ensemble sound along with colours and textures from folk music. Ravensburg (2017) turned the spotlight on Eick’s own biography, looking, with affection, at his Norwegian and South German family roots. The full group heard on Ravensburg returns for When we leave, augmented by Stian Carstensen’s pedal steel guitar – last heard in an Eick context on The Door – and the saga continues.

 

Mathias Eick sees When we leave as “a natural continuation of Ravensburg, almost a Ravensburg 2. More of everything.” Where its predecessor drew portraits of friends and family and sketched some personal interactions, the new album follows its protagonists through a troubled year. A sense of narrative could be drawn from the interplay of titles and musical atmosphere: “The songs and titles on When we leave play upon each other, draw inspiration from each other.”

 

Meanwhile, the Eick band continues to grow in confidence and range. Violinist Håkon Aase, increasingly recognized as one of the outstanding improvisers of his generation (his ECM credits also include two albums with Thomas Strønen’s Time Is A Blind Guide ensemble), augments the bandleader’s solos with lines that draw upon folk traditions as well as jazz. There is a mystery, too, in the way that the violin leans into the delicate swell of Stian Carstensen’s pedal steel. Eick: “Stian’s carpet of harmonies adds a feeling of depth – and the combination with the violin creates a special sound. I’m always searching for sounds that are unique and stand out of time.

 

Powerful drummer Torstein Lofthus has played in contexts from pop to free jazz (including sessions with US saxophonist Sonny Simmons) and is known also for his contributions to exploratory rock group Elephant9. When Ravensburg was released, Eick explained his decision to add a second drummer: “I wasn’t trying to make the drumming bigger but rather more three-dimensional. What’s going on in the area of rhythm is very much like what’s happening between Håkon and myself, where a similar idea of shadowing and call and response is taking place.” Co-drummer Helge Andreas Norbakken digs into the textures of the music, creatively detailing the rhythm and working freely with sound as he has on ECM recordings from the Jon Balke/Amina Alaoui project Siwan to the “percussion think-tankBatagraf or Jon Hassell’s Last Night The Moon…, as well as Mathias Eick’s Midwest.

 

Andreas Ulvo, a pianist of lyrical gifts, draws inspiration from classical music, in his own projects juxtaposing Satie and Rodrigo with free playing, and working across a broad range of idioms. Latterly he has been collaborating with Swiss harpist Giovana Pessi in a new project: an ECM release is in preparation. In parallel with his musical activities, he is also a photographer and has contributed images to albums by Dans les arbres and Giovanna Pessi/Susanna Wallumrød, among others.

 

Bassist Audun Erlien’s particular groove, informed by years of playing soul and funk music, has been part of the Eick band sound since The Door. Erlien can also be heard with Nils Petter Molvaer on Solid Ether.

 

Mathias Eick was born into a musical family in Norway in 1979 and took up the piano at the age of five, followed by trumpet a year later. A multi-instrumentalist, he also plays vibraphone, double bass, guitar, and keyboards, although the trumpet was always “the instrument closest to my heart” as he once put it. He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the including the International Jazz Festival Organization’sInternational Jazz Talent” prize, the Statoil Scholarship, and the DNB Prize.

 

When we leave was recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in August 2020. It was produced by Manfred Eicher. The Eick band presents music from the album in concert at Nasjonal Jazzscene Victoria, Oslo (September 17), Collage Festival, Copenhagen (October 2), Jazzfest, Brno, Czech Republic (November 1), and Schloß Elmau, Krün, Germany (November 20).

 

Upcoming Releases on ECM
September 24: Marcin Wasilewski Trio | En Attendant
October 8: Enrico Rava | Edizione Speciale
October 8: Craig Taborn | Shadow Plays
October 29: Ayumi Tanaka Trio | Subaqueous Silence
November 5: Jorge Rossy, Robert Landfermann, Jeff BallardPuerta

 

Mathias Eick | When We Leave
ECM | Release DateSeptember 24, 2021
For more information on ECM, please visit:

 

 

Marcin Wasilewski Trio Returns for their Seventh ECM Release with the Imaginative En attendant

Available September 10 via ECM

 

“Their years together have resulted in an ensemble with an utterly symbiotic creative flow,” observed Don Heckman in the Los Angeles Times, when the Marcin Wasilewski Trio was first making its presence felt on the international jazz scene. The improvisational communication among the players has continued to deepen with the years, along with their range of creative options. En attendant pays testimony to the musicians’ far-reaching imagination and to the ways in which the group’s lucid musical language can integrate influence from disparate sources.

 

Recorded just prior to their Arctic Riff collaboration with Joe Lovano, En attendant finds Marcin Wasilewski, Slawomir Kurkiewicz, and Michal Miskiewicz in a thoughtful, exploratory mood. The multifaceted Polish group illuminates a characteristically wide span of music, the scope extending from Bach to group improvisation. On En attendant, collectively created pieces are juxtaposed with Wasilewski’s malleable “Glimmer of Hope”, Carla Bley’s timeless “Vashkar”, The Doors’ hypnotic “Riders on the Storm” and a selection from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations, transformed in the context. Fluidity is the hallmark, allied to the deep listening made possible by more than a quarter-century of collaborative music-making.

 

The tripartite “In Motion” offers the most thorough account yet of the trio’s capacity for finding forms at the moment, shaping and developing musical structures with a running sense of architectural proportion. “In Motion Part I” gives way to Variation 25 from the Goldberg Variations, a reminder that all roads lead to Bach, eventually. The trio’s take on the minor key aria gently probes its atmosphere of dark passion and encircles its exquisite melody.

 

Paul Bley’s Footloose! recording of 1963 was where many musicians first learned about Carla Bley as a composer. As Marcin Wasilewski recently noted it “opened the gates to something undiscovered”, including the inexhaustible mysteries of tunes like “Vashkar,” which has become one of the pieces the trio likes to revisit, always finding something new inside it.

 

Pop and rock cover versions have also long been part of the trio’s story. Earlier recordings have found the group re-contextualising Björk’s “Hyperballad”, Prince’sDiamonds and Pearls”, the Police’s “Message in a Bottle” and more. The Doors’ iconic “Riders on the Storm” now joins the list, in a subtly unconventional arrangement. While the rhythmic feel here hews to a bubbling groove close to the original, bassist Slawomir Kurkewicz is to the fore for much of the tune, soloing inside the form, while Wasilewski mines the harmonies.

 

Marcin’s rubato ballad “Glimmer of Hope” moves like the waves, floating its glistening motive through changing tonalities over Michal Miskiewicz’s detailed cymbals and drums.

 

Marcin Wasilewski and Slawomir Kurkiewicz (both born in 1975) have been playing in trio with Michal Miskiewicz (born 1977) since 1993. The group quickly became an important force on the Polish jazz scene, both in its own right and as three-quarters of Tomasz Stanko’s band.
It was with Stanko that they first came to ECM appearing on the acclaimed albums Soul of Things (recorded 2001), followed by Suspended Night (2003), and Lontano (2005). Stanko, who was also a mentor for the trio, enthused, “In the entire history of Polish jazz, we’ve never had a band like this one. I’m surprised by these musicians every day. They just keep getting better and better.”

 

This sentiment was echoed in the press, with JazzTimes observing, “Marcin Wasilewski does not think like other jazz pianists. His improvisational underpinning, his sense of musical space, and his aural imagery are so fresh they are initially mysterious, then get more so. …It takes nerve for a young trio to create music of such stillness, such patience. The fact that the three have played together since they were teenagers is audible in the way they trust the epiphanies they collectively come upon.”

 

Albums by Marcin Wasilewski, Slawomir Kurkiewicz, and Michal Miskiewicz on ECM include Trio (recorded 2004), January (2007), Faithful (2010), Spark of Life (2014, with Joakim Milder), Live (2016), and Arctic Riff (2019, with Joe Lovano). The trio, plus saxophonist Trygve Seim, also contributes to guitarist Jakob Young’s recording Forever Young (2013). Wasilewski and Kurkuwicz appear, furthermore, on Manu Katché’s albums Neighbourhood (2004) and Playground (2007).

Recorded at Studios La Buissonne in August 2019.

Upcoming Releases on ECM
September 24: Mathias Eick | When We Leave
October 8: Enrico Rava | Edizione Speciale
October 8: Craig Taborn | Shadow Plays
October 29: Ayumi Tanaka Trio | Subaqueous Silence
November 5: Jorge Rossy, Robert Landfermann, Jeff Ballard | Puerta

 

Marcin Wasilewski Trio | En Attendant
ECM | Release DateSeptember 10, 2021

 

Check the single “VASHKAR” from the forthcoming album “EN ATTENDANT” by Marcin Wasilewski Trio

What are you listening to?: The stunning Magico-Carta de Amor is classic European Jazz produced by Manfred Eicher featuring Jan Garbarek, Egberto Gismonti & Charlie Haden

A fascinating set from three strong and contrasting musical personalities: Norwegian saxophonist, Brazilian guitarist-pianist, and US bassist making purposeful and creative music together on this previously unreleased live recording. Carta de Amor documents music captured at Munichs Amerika Haus in April 1981. Two years on from the much-loved albums Magico and Folk Songs, the trio’s improvisational empathy and sensibilities were further honed by experiences as a touring group.

Repertoire includes five pieces from Gismontis pen, with the title track heard in two variations, opening and closing this enthralling double album. Also heard here are Garbarek’s folk song arrangements and an extended, freewheeling version of his composition Spor. Charlie Haden brings in La Pasionaria, from the repertoire of the Liberation Music Orchestra and All That Is Beautiful, not previously documented on disc.

Recorded by Manfred Eicher and Martin Wieland in 1981, mixed from original analog tapes by Eicher and Jan Erik Kongshaug in 24 bit/96 kHz in 2012. ~Editorial Review | Amazon

Original Release Date: August 14, 2012

At your leisure, spin the understated beauty of “MAGICOCARTA DE AMOR” by Jan Garbarek, Egberto Gismonti & Charlie Haden

Jaga Jazzist release new film and live album “The Tower” on Brainfeeder, recorded at the top of Økern Kulturtårn in Oslo

Premiered on Brainfeeder’s weekly Twitch show The Hit and released today, “The Tower” is a new film and live album by the Norwegian eight-piece band Jaga Jazzist. Comprising of live recordings of the four compositions that make up their ninth studio album “Pyramid”, the band linked with director Sigurd Ytre-Arne to film an incredible live set at the top of Økern Kulturtårn in Oslo, capturing the transition from day to night as the sunset over Norway’s capital city.

This was a beautiful night in August 2020 after five months in lockdown. It was the first day we met up and played the album together since recording it a year earlier,” explains Lars Horntveth. “The idea was to capture the sunset over our beautiful city while playing the new album from start to finish. Filmed, edited, and directed by the super talented Sigurd Ytre-Arne. We´re stoked that we captured this on film and looking forward to finally show it to everybody. Enjoy!

Released last year on Flying LotusBrainfeeder Records, “Pyramid” saw Jaga Jazzist taking a deep dive into post-rock, jazz, and psychedelia influences. The album title refers to the building blocks which make up a pyramid, and how each of the four tracks – and their constituent parts – fit together. ‘Tomita’ is a nod to Japanese composer and synth player Isao Tomita, and ‘The Shrine’ alludes to Fela Kuti’s legendary Lagos venue. Lars says: “I felt that this album is a small symphony, each part containing its own rooms to explore.” ~BandCamp.com

At your leisure, check out “THE TOWER” by Jaga Jazzist