I listen to a lot of piano trio records.
It has to be said I like almost all of them (but then again, I wouldn’t buy them if I didn’t). Something about a piano led trio that offers loads of scope. It can be quiet, peaceful, church-like and melodic (Tord Gustavsen). It can be as thumping as a metal band (The Bad Plus). It can be jaunty and upbeat (George Shearing trio’s). It can be as fiery and bopish as any horn led quintet (George Cables). Or it can swing (Oscar Peterson).
For a trio to be really, really good all the three elements have to act as one (almost all those listed above meet that criteria). However, a lot of “good” piano trio records are little more than a great piano backed by a “good” bass and drummer.
The new Marcin Wasilewski Trio CD with Wasilewski on piano, Slawomir Kurkiewicz on bass and Michal Miskiewicz on drums, is perhaps the closest I’ve heard to a perfect trio album in ages. The whole really is greater than the sum of the component parts. These three guys don’t play one single note that doesn’t compliment any other. There might be solos in there, I couldn’t say, because my ears don’t pick up “piano sections” and “drum sections” and “bass lines” here – it really is so well fitted together all you’ll hear is trio sounds.
If your only going to spend one hour this year listening to jazz then make it this album. If you can only afford 5 minutes then listen to the track “Ballad Of The Sad Young Men”.
I’ve already got a version of this particular song by the Gil Evans Orchestra from 1959 – and I love that. Yet these three musicians can somehow, using only their three instruments wisely, fill the song out so much more than Evans did with a full horn section at his disposal.
Only six months in and I think I’ve got my record of 2011 (though that won’t stop me looking).