Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sławek Jaskułke Trio – ON (2015)

Sławek Jaskułke Trio

Sławomir Jaskułke - piano
Max Mucha - double bass
Krzysztof Dziedzic - drums



By Adam Baruch

This is the seventh album by Polish pianist/composer Sławek Jaskułke, which finds him returning to the classic piano trio format, following a series of solo piano recordings. The trio includes also bassist Max Mucha and drummer Krzysztof Dziedzic; the latter was a member of Jaskułke's trio a decade earlier. The album presents eight original compositions, all by Jaskułke. The music was excellently recorded and the album is packaged in a very unique design, being both very original and very impractical.

Jaskulke is undoubtedly one the top Polish pianists since the onset of the millennium, but his recording legacy is in retrospect sadly less impressive that what it might have been. His solo piano recordings have taken him into New Age and other atmospheric music idioms, placing him away from the Jazz mainstream, where he feels most comfortably. This album, therefore, is definitely a move in the right direction.

The compositions on this album present a reinvigorated, energetic Jaskułke, being mostly up-tempo if not neck-breaking fast. This fresh approach is most welcome, but it might have been a bit more constrained and relaxed. Nevertheless the music is absorbing and certainly impressive. In my opinion it would have been more enjoyable if more ballad material was included, but that is of course a matter of taste.

The strongest point of this album is the performance by the rhythm section, which is truly spectacular. Mucha keeps his bass lines shoulder to shoulder with the racing piano, with a feel and technical brilliance rarely experienced. Dziedzic produces a strong barrage on the drum set, which sounds very powerful, but brilliantly manages not to overpower the two other trio members. His drumming is a text book example of powerful "wall of sound" Jazz drumming par excellence.

It's great to see Jaskulke back on track, which of course gives us hope for more great recordings to follow. This album is definitely worth checking out, especially for those Polish Jazz followers, who gave up on Jaskułke. It was definitely worth waiting for.

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