Spark Of Life

Marcin Wasilewski Trio, Joakim Milder

EN / DE

The fourth ECM album for the Wasilewski Trio adds a special guest, the lyrical Swedish saxophonist Joakim Milder, whom the Poles came to know through performances with Tomasz Stanko’s Litania project. Amongst other affinities, the players share a love of Krzyzstof Komeda’s music, and Komeda’s “Sleep Safe and Warm” theme, written for Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby make a reappearance here. As ever, the Wasilewski group balances original material – intensely melodic new tunes by Marcin (including two variations of the beautiful title track) – with a daring range of covers, embracing Herbie Hancock, the Police’s “Message In A Bottle” and Slawomir Kurkiewicz’s arrangement of a composition by Grazyna Bacewicz, and reinforces its status as one of the most resourceful groups around. This is the trio’s second ECM appearance this year, following on from sterling work as Jacob Young’s rhythm section on Forever Young. Spark of Life was recorded in Lugano in March 2014, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

Auf dem vierten ECM-Album des Wasilewski Trios gibt es einen besonderen Gast, den lyrisch spielenden schwedischen Saxofonisten Joakim Milder, den die drei Polen von seiner Mitwirkung an Tomasz Stankos Litania-Projekt her kennen. Zu den Affinitäten, die die vier hier beteiligten Musiker gemeinsam haben, gehört auch die Liebe zur Musik von Krzyzstof Komeda. Dessen Thema „Sleep Safe and Warm“, einst für Roman Polankis Film „Rosemary’s Baby“ geschrieben, taucht hier wieder auf. Wie immer kombiniert das Wasilewski Trio eigene Kompositionen – ausgesprochen melodiöse neue Stücke von Marcin (darunter zwei Variationen des Titelstücks) – mit einer kühnen Auswahl an Coverversionen: Herbie Hancocks „Actual Proof“, „Message in A Bottle“ von Police, und Slawomir Kurkiewicz‘ Arrangement einer Komposition von Grazyna Bacewicz.
Dies ist der zweite ECM-Auftritt für das Trio in diesem Jahr nach dem glänzenden Einsatz als Jacob Youngs Rhythmusgruppe auf dessen Album Forever Young. Aufgenommen wurde Spark Of Life im März 2014 in Lugano, Manfred Eicher produzierte.
Featured Artists Recorded

March 2014, Auditorio RSI - Radio Svizzera, Lugano

Original Release Date

10.10.2014

  • 1Austin
    (Marcin Wasilewski)
    07:07
  • 2Sudovian Dance
    (Marcin Wasilewski)
    06:28
  • 3Spark Of Life
    (Marcin Wasilewski)
    06:33
  • 4Do rycerzy, do szlachty, do mieszczan
    (Katarzyna Nosowska, Marcin Zabrocki, Paweł Krawczyk)
    04:37
  • 5Message In A Bottle
    (Gordon Sumner)
    07:36
  • 6Sleep Safe And Warm
    (Krzysztof Komeda)
    06:55
  • 7Three Reflections
    (Marcin Wasilewski)
    08:33
  • 8Still
    (Joakim Milder)
    06:44
  • 9Actual Proof
    (Herbie Hancock)
    06:05
  • 10Largo
    (Grażyna Bacewicz)
    08:05
  • 11Spark Of Life, Var.
    (Marcin Wasilewski)
    05:01
“Part of the group’s secret is the patient ease with which they intertwine impressionistic music and powerful pulses…” – The Guardian

The fourth ECM album from the Marcin Wasilewski Trio adds a special guest, the lyrical Swedish saxophonist Joakim Milder, whom the Polish band came to know through live performances with Tomasz Stanko’s Litania project. Amongst other affinities, the players share a love of Krzyzstof Komeda’s themes, and “Sleep Safe and Warm” written for Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, makes a welcome reappearance here. Milder played the theme with Stanko on the Litania recording in 1997. Two years earlier the Wasilewski Trio (or the Simple Acoustic Trio, as they were then known) featured it on their very first album, Komeda. “Wasilewski is a sensitive, bittersweet romantic,” opined UK website Marlbank recently, “in one sense a disciple of Bill Evans, but just as much a follower of Komeda, the great Polish film composer. And it’s fitting that one of Komeda’s most compelling melodies is included on the new album.”

On Spark Of Life, recorded in Lugano in March 2014, and produced by Manfred Eicher, the Wasilewski group balances original material – intensely melodic new tunes by Marcin (including variations of the beautiful title track), and one from Milder (the buoyant “Still”)  – with an eclectic range of covers. The players embrace Herbie Hancock’s “Actual Proof” (an acoustic version of a tune very much associated with the sonorities of the Fender Rhodes), the Police’s pop hit “Message In A Bottle” (here given a robust, Tyner-ish rhythmic emphasis), “Do rycerzy, do szlachty, do mieszczan” from Polish grunge-rock group Hey, and Slawomir Kurkiewicz’s sensitive arrangement of a piece by contemporary classical composer Grazyna Bacewicz. Throughout, the Wasilewski Trio reinforces its status as one of the most resourceful groups around. This is the trio’s second ECM appearance in a matter of months, following on from sterling work as Jacob Young’s rhythm section on Forever Young.

The rapport between band members Wasilewski, Kurkiewicz and Miskiewicz is the key to the group’s singular longevity. Here are three musicians, all still in their thirties, with more than 20 years of shared playing experience. Marcin and Slawomir began playing jazz together as 15-year old students at the Koszalin High School of Music. Their first trio was formed the following year. In 1993 drummer Michal Miskiewicz, son of noted Polish alto sax player Henryk Miskiewicz, joined them, and the group’s line-up has been stable ever since. As the Simple Acoustic Trio they won awards in their homeland and issued five albums on local labels. (Their early emphasis on Komeda awakened Tomasz Stanko’s interest in the group, and through the 1990s they collaborated with the trumpeter on projects, beginning with theatre music; by the decade’s end, they’d progressed to become his regular band. In 2001 their work together was documented, to public acclaim, on the Stanko Quartet album Soul of Things, recorded by ECM in 2001, followed by Suspended Night in 2003, and Lontano in 2005. The association continues today, albeit intermittently, with the former protégés now billed as Stanko’s Old Quartet).

Their first international release by Wasilewski/Kurkiewicz/Miskiewicz, entitled just “Trio” was recorded in 2004 and released the following year, immediately winning the Quarterly Prize of the German Record Critics. In the US, too, critics were taking notice. “Their years together have resulted in an ensemble with an utterly symbiotic creative flow,” noted Don Heckman in the Los Angeles Times. Subsequent ECM recordings were January (recorded 2007) and Faithful (2010).

“This trio is now one of the finest in jazz, its mutual ease and intuition something to marvel at,” wrote Ray Comiskey in The Irish Times: “Musically and extra-musically it remains a co-operative; Wasilewski’s a kind of aural painter who puts the colours on the group’s canvases while the others shape and highlight them, in a kind of impressionism that allows the trio’s fluid interaction free rein and permits the band to evoke, sustain and resolve a considerable mood spectrum.”

Special guest Joakim Milder was born in Stockholm in 1965. At home in many aspects of the tradition, he always serves the needs of the work at hand, simultaneously engaged and cool-toned, resolutely musical.
YEAR DATE VENUE LOCATION
2024 September 21 The Blue Note Poznan, Poland
2024 October 17 National Concert Hall Dublin, Ireland
2024 October 18 Enjoy Jazz Festival Schwetzingen, Germany
2024 October 20 Novoměstská radnice Praha Prague, Czechia
2024 November 23 EFG London Jazz Festival- Cadogan Hall London, United Kingdom
2024 December 04 GEMS Jazzclub Singen, Germany