I've owned this album for two weeks and I already know that it's the best piano trio record I've ever heard. The trio's first ECM recording, "Trio", had much to admire (including the perfect "Hyperballad") but was relatively modest in its scale and aspiration. A second, "January", though more ambitious, suffered perhaps from a slightly noodly dynamic - a lack of strong themes and structure for all the lyrical beauty. "Faithful", however, demonstrates that the group has now really mastered the studio. Here the themes are clearly articulated and the architecture of the tunes well constructed and proportioned. The band's profound lyricism and balladry predominate only marginally over their ability to rock. In tracks like his vibrant "Night Train to You", with its muscular EST-like riff, Wasilewski affirmatively answers the lingering question of whether he is a composer as well as a great pianist. ECM's recording captures his sparkling tone and brilliant touch with crystal clarity. As usual on all their recordings, the telepathic understanding of these long term partners is obvious. If I were only allowed to buy one CD this year it would be this one.
After three beautiful recordings with master trumpeter Tomasz Stanko in what was the all Polish Tomasz Stanko Quartet (Soul of Things recorded August 2001, Suspended Night recorded July 2003, Lontano recorded November 2005), and after two also beautiful releases under their own name (Trio recorded March 2004, January recorded February 2007), the Marcin Wasilewki Trio is back with Faithful, recorded August 2010. Faithful opens with the romantic piece "An den kleinen Radioapparat" by Hanns Eisler (also reinterpreted years ago under the name "The Secret Marriage" by pop singer Sting in his 1987 Nothing Like the Sun) and the first impression of poetic and heartening music is confirmed one track after the other in 71 minutes of music. Moods are somewhat less ethereal and meditative that the trio previous releases, more lyrical and fluid, more immediate and possibly more entertaining. You might like this change or prefer their previous recordings, that's just a matter of tastes. For sure Faithful is a really beautiful trio recoding that would please many estimators of contemporary European jazz. High quality package and sound as usual from ECM.
There are a number of excellent reviews on this already so I shall be brief. For anyone whose introduction to this Trio was in their double bill with Stefano Bollani in London last night, all the tracks played then come from "Faithful" the Trio's third release although they first appeared on ECM in 2002 supporting Tomasz Stanko in Soul of Things. Their debut in 2005 was excellent, whose highlight was a wonderfully hypnotic cover of Bjork's "Hyperballad". "January" was, in some ways, a more mature follow up but without the stand out. "Faithful" combines the best of both worlds . While the whole album is excellent,as the Trio shows its skills on an eclectic range of material, for me the standout is the lengthy second track "Night Train To You" a Wasilewski composition with which the Trio closed last night. It is sexy, subtle, propulsive, melodic, inventive and never outstays its welcome and deserves to be as famous as some of the tracks the Trio has covered in its time. A must have.
My I hate those clever b******s at Amazon. They're obviously a bit too smart at working out what I might like. Frankly I'd never heard of this guy till they brought this up as a suggestion. But on a whim I listened to the samples, and on slightly less of a whim, bought the album. If you like mellow melodic piano led jazz it's fantastic.
All in all, it was a gamble. I won.
The only problem is, I can see myself parting with more of my hard earned cash in the future tracking down other albums by him - which takes nothing away from the equally sympathetic rhythm section who gently reinforce what the piano is doing.
Having first heard the trio support Tomaz Stanko in Dublin several years ago, and more recently, last year in an intimate 200 seat setting in Barnstaple, this band just gets better and better. This album is their best so far, albeit against a 4-star+ standard. The interplay, textural variety and lasting impression is as good as piano trio music gets. Wonderful stuff which captures the absorptive quality of their live performances. BUY IT!
Each new release from this group gets better and better. They are masters of trio interplay, their playing subtle and cool. Up there with the best of the best, I thoroughly recommend this to lovers of the modern piano trio genre.
There isn't a bad track on this album - I knew nothing about these guys till I heard a track on Radio 3's JRR - bought the album and can't stop playing it. Special praise for 'Ballad of the Sad Young Men' - I usually switch the repeat button on just before the track ends just to hear those glorious notes one more time.