Saturday, May 14, 2016

Marek Walarowski Trio – Seven Stairs To Hell (2015)

Marek Walarowski Trio

Marek Walarowski - piano
Jędrzej Łaciak - acoustic bass guitar
Michał Dziewiński - drums

Seven Stairs To Hell

DUX 1209



By Adam Baruch

This is an album by Polish pianist/composer Marek Walarowski, which presents a project he recorded with a classic piano trio with acoustic bass guitarist Jędrzej Łaciak and drummer Michał Dziewiński. It consists of eight original compositions, all by Walarowski. The tongue in cheek reference in the project's title to the seminal Miles Davis album hints about the musical point of reference this music is related to, deep within the Jazz tradition.

Although seemingly a straight-ahead mainstream Jazz piano trio album, this album offers a whole musical concept, which mixes the traditional Jazz idiom with unique approach to improvisation, where the instruments rather than soloing in turn, improvise continuously constantly exchanging phrases between themselves, similar to what happens in group improvisation in Free Jazz, but within the standard melodic/harmonic mainstream Jazz. If this is not clear enough, the best idea is to listen to the music and hear this approach in real time.

Of course in order to apply this approach, Walarowski had to find the right partners, which is definitely not a trivial matter. The stunning work done by the acoustic bass guitarist is a proof that such partners do exists. Łaciak plays along with the piano notes with an amazing virtuosity, and manages to combine the traditional role of the bass in a piano trio with a continuous barrage of notes, which improvise and perform a dialogue with the piano. Dziewiński is obviously less involved in the actual improvisation, except for his solo spots, but he accompaniments the piano/bass lines with great elegance and sensitivity.

Of course the great performances are based first and foremost on the compositions, which serve as vehicles for the improvisational layer. Walarowski's beautifully melodic and lyrical themes are perfect for the job and are a real pleasure to listen to. He is also a great pianist of course, but his idiosyncratic style might sound a bit strange to purist Jazz listeners, revealing some Classical mannerisms, which are difficult to hide.

Overall this is a wonderful piano trio album, which should make all connoisseurs of that particular Jazz variety extremely happy, although it might require a few listening sessions in order to appreciate this music in full. I suppose this is a multi-layered album in a sense that some listeners will enjoy the melodic, swinging parts, which are very easy to like while others will make an effort to dig deeper and listen beneath the surface to discover the hidden treasures. Whichever way, this is a highly recommended piece of music, worth discovering and investigating.

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