It's unlikely that, outside of their native Poland, pianist Marcin Wasilewski, bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michal Miskiewicz will achieve Crosby Stills & Nash-style billing, at least not yet. Although the group's album for ECM Records came out under the members' individual names, for this debut British tour they chose to operate under that album's title, Trio. But there's not really any confusion: all over the world, jazz fans know them as the rhythm section for the famous Polish trumpeter, Tomasz Stanko.
It was Stanko who recruited the trio as teenagers eight or so years ago, and they've toured the UK with him twice. Last time out, it became evident that, if the tail wasn't quite wagging the dog, Tomasz was at times struggling to keep up. On Tuesday in Bristol, they demonstrated three things: that the piano trio can be the most satisfying format in jazz; that Trio is one of the best trios going; and that Marcin Wasilewski is a star.
While it's unfair to single out one of them - and it's the three individuals overall unselfishness that makes the music work so well - there's no getting away from Wasilewski's brilliance. Swaying as he plays, with his hands restlessly fingering the keyboard even when he's laying out, he has that rare ability to be equally lyrical and rhythmical, tender and tough. On Wayne Shorter's "Plaza Real" and the encore of "Sister's Song", doubling the tempo on speed-of-light runs grounded by a funky, left-hand pulse, he was unstoppable. The quieter spell cast by versions of Bjork's "Hyperballad" and the theme from Cinema Paradiso provoked subtle shudders of delight. Come back soon, whatever you're called.
The Tomasz Stanko Quartet appears at the Bath International Festival (01225 463362) on 27 May; and the Coventry Jazz Festival (024 7622 7264/66) on 28 MayReuse content