Cover Spark of Life

Album info



Label: ECM

Genre: Jazz

Subgenre: Contemporary Jazz

Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)

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  • 1Austin07:07
  • 2Sudovian Dance06:28
  • 3Spark of Life06:33
  • 4Do rycerzy, do szlachty, do mieszczan04:37
  • 5Message in a Bottle07:36
  • 6Sleep Safe and Warm06:55
  • 7Three Reflections08:33
  • 8Still06:44
  • 9Actual Proof06:05
  • 10Largo08:05
  • 11Spark of Life, Var.05:01
  • Total Runtime01:13:44

Info for Spark of Life

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.

Marcin Wasilewski, piano
Slawomir Kurkiewicz, double bass
Michal Miskiewicz, drums
Joakim Milder, tenor saxophone

Recorded March 2014 at Auditorio Radiotelevisione svizzera, Lugano
Engineered by Stefano Amerio
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Marcin Wasilewski Trio
As an autonomous force, the trio’s biography begins in 1990, when Wasilewski and Kurkiewicz as 15-year old students at the Koszalin High School of Music began playing jazz together. Their first trio was formed the following year. In 1993 drummer 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 first international release, for ECM, 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,” wrote Don Heckman in the Los Angeles Times.

The release of “January” - recorded in New York with producer Manfred Eicher early in 2007 - also signals a change of name. Henceforth the group is, simply, the MarcinWasilewski Trio. The group continues to be run as a collective of equals, but its members have come to accept the convention that piano trios are traditionally identified by their pianists. Besides, Marcin is the band’s principal songwriter: he contributes four pieces to the present disc, including the title track and the beautiful opener, “The First Touch”. Wasilewski also, at the urging of the producer, addresses pieces written by Gary Peacock and by Carla Bley - pieces identified with two major pianists, respectively Keith Jarrett and Paul Bley. Wasilewski does not flinch from the challenge but, with his trio partners, makes of this music something of his own.

Joakim Milder
born in 1965 in Stockholm, grew up in a home enamoured by music, his father being one of the best swing pianists in Stockholm, his mother being a singer and teacher of music as well, a musically talented older brother, an older sister who is also a music teacher and a twin brother who was at that time studying at the Opera college. From his father the accent and repertoire of jazz music was there since his childhood. However, Joakim had shown very little interest until he 'was struck' to quote his own words. Before that he had played the recorder for many years, devoting himself to baroque music. He wanted to develop and improvise but choosing the saxophone was merely by chance; in some ways it resembled a recorder. And as always when something had 'struck' him it was on the border of mania. In about 1980 - just before he started studying at an upper musical high school - he decided to become a jazz musician. He never hesitated to consider the consequences; being a musician implied that he sometimes had to do things that are not so very committing as for example to travel a lot, work hours when others are free, periodically seek unemployment benefits.

Then everything happened rapidly. A few years later he achieved his big 'break-through'. By that time he had developed his own, most personal way of playing the saxophone. He believes that there are advantages in having achieved some kind of aesthetic decisions before starting the long road of practice on one's instrument and to have a fair idea about what appeals to you and as how you wish to present yourself musically. Says Joakim: "Music must be created by a desire to communicate something, otherwise it is of little interest to me - it's simply a waste of time listening to someone who has nothing to say. I'm not alleging that it was clear to me earlier on how I related to music but that was during a period of life when one starts reflecting and trying to look beyond oneself. Musical development deals very much with peeling away the superficialities and cultivating your playing."

Joakim's own tonal language, the distinctive character of his music, was present even from the start. It came naturally to him. He can't see any value in standing out in a crowd, not as an end in itself. During the last 30 years it is above all John Coltrane's music that has been reflected in the succeeding generations of saxophone-players. But Joakim is one exception. He understands, of course, all those who have been willingly influenced by Coltrane. But when listening very carefully to Coltrane's music Joakim can hear something else, namely, the importance of making your own voice distinctive and to play the music in which you believe, even though those who surround you may have a completely different opinion.

Joakim has taken pains to function in as many musical connections as possible but he has never thought of using anything that other musicians have formulated. Even though he knows the tones and phrases of others he believes that he could never make living music of them.

Joakim says that his music gradually is becoming more and more accessible and that he has a greater understanding for those who find his music sometimes commonplace or harmless than those who find it difficult to listen to. When the inner voice is saying something strong and clear it defeats all intellectual barriers. That's why it's a very strange but nevertheless common remark that one doesn't understand music. As if anyone ever understood! Joakim says that personally he doesn't understand anything of what he plays. (Based on an article by Lars Westin in OrkesterJournalen 4/1997)

Booklet for Spark of Life

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