Marcin Wasilewski Trio, fot. © Tomasz Sikora / ECM Records
Marcin Wasilewski Trio, photo: © Tomasz Sikora / ECM Records

The trio is one of the brightest stars of the Polish jazz scene, recognised for their unique talent in blending tradition with contemporary sound. 

Marcin Wasilewski Trio is: Marcin Wasilewski (born 1975) on the piano, Sławomir Kurkiewicz (born 1975) on base, and Michał Miśkiewicz (born 1977) playing the percussion.

The band combines the grand tradition of the challenging piano trio tenet and creates their own distinct sound in doing so. It is also one of the most consistently developing bands of the Polish music scene, and one that is very open to inspiration from the surrounding environment. The Marcin Wasilewski Trio is considered one of the most acclaimed and unique jazz formations of its generation, and it has garnered recognition in its native Poland as well as abroad.

In 2013, the band celebrates 20 years of playing in an unwavering squad. But its actual history goes back even further, to the year 1990. It was then that the Simple Acoustic Trio was founded by a group of students from a music high school in Koszalin. Their debut performance would come a year later, and the band quickly began to garner awards across Poland. In 1993, the young percussionist Michał Miśkiewicz (the son of renowned Polish saxophonist Henryk Miśkiewicz) joined the Simple Acoustic Trio and since then the group plays together untouched by any personal disturbances.

Their very first record Komeda came out in 1995, published by the Kraków based Gowi Records label. It became one of the most widely commented debuts of the year. An homage to the work of Krzysztof Komeda, it consisted entirely of his compositions. The critics and audience alike didn’t fail to hear in the recordings much more than mere interpretations of the historic pieces of Polish jazz. The reviews hailed the trio a creative continuation of this history, and one of the biggest promises of the Polish jazz scene.

Their music soon stirred the curiosity of Tomasz Stańko, the legendary Polish trumpet player. In the late 1990s, Stańko was searching for a new quartet squad, one that would allow him to pursue the kind of work he did with Bobo Stenson, Anders Jormin and Tony Oxley. The encounter with Tomasz Stańko turned out to be a turning point in the trio’s career. Stańko was quoted as saying that "In the entire history of Polish jazz there was no group like this one".

The cooperation with Tomasz Stańko was officially launched between 1999 and 2000, and it was preceeded by occasional concert collaboration between Stańko and Wasilewski. The Simple Acoustic Trio had gained a mentor in Stańko and cooperated with him as a working band. This cooperation soon lead to recording with one of the world’s leading labels, the Munich-based ECM.

Together with Stańko they recorded three albums with the ECM: Soul of Things (2002), Suspended Night (2004) and Lontano (2006). They also made three concert tours across the US, performing in some of America’s best jazz stages: Blues Alley in Washington, Merkin Hall and Birdland in New York. Stańko and the trio also played at the San Fransisco Jazz Festival and the Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle.
Although the musicians were very actively engaged in making music together, and their career was gaining speed, the actual name Simple Acoustic Trio was less and less heard of. The last album they recorded under the old name was Habanera, released by the Not Two Records label in Kraków in May, 2000.

The musicians would return to the stage as an independent trio five years later, and it was a splendid beginning. The album Trio was once again recorded by ECM and after since its release in 2005, two more albums followed: January (2008), and Faithfull (2011), both of which were also released by ECM. Faithfull gained the status of a double platinum record and it was a huge artistic success.

 

Since their very beginnings, the group has been building its position with numerous prizes, among them the many Fryderk awards of the Polish Music Academy. In 2010, the Marcin Wasilewski Trio also won the annual readers’ poll of the Jazz Forum magazine for the Best Acoustic Formation in Poland, gaining nearly twice as many votes as the Tomasz Stańko quintet.

Over the 20 years of their activity on the music scene, Marcin Wasilewski Trio has cooperated with numerours internationally acclaimed musicians both individually and as a band. They performed with Tomasz Szukalski, Piotr Wojtasik, Michał Urbaniak, Janusz Muniak and Henryk Miśkiewicz, and also participated in international projects with stars of the international jazz scene, such as: Dino Saluzzi, Palle Danielson, Jon Christensen, Arild Andersen, Bernt Rosengren, John Surman, Bobo Stenson, Manu Katche, Gianluigi Trovesi, czy Jan Garbarek, Arthur Blythe and Joe Lovano.

Maciej Karłowski, March 2013
Translated with edition by Paulina Schlosser

Discography:

With Tomasz Stańko

  • 2001 Soul of Things
  • 2003 Suspended Night
  • 2006 Lontano

As Simple Acoustic Trio

  • 1995 Komeda
  • 1996 When Will The Blues Leave
  • 1996 Live in Getxo
  • 2000 Habanera
  • 2001 Lyrics
  • 2005 Trio

As Marcin Wasilewski Trio

  • 2008 January
  • 2011 Faithfull

Awards and Special Mentions

  • 1991 - 3rd place in the Jazz Juniors band competition in Kraków
  • 1991 - special mention for Marcin Wasilewski at the International Jazz Pianists’ Competition in Kalisz
  • 1993 - 1st place at the International Festival of Jazz Ensembles Chorus in Sorgues, France
  • 1996 - 1st place at the Spanish Getxo ‘96 jazz competition and an individual award for Marcin Wasilewski
  • 1996 - 1st place at Leverkusen Jazz Festival competition and Best Soloist award for Marcin Wasilewski
  • 2001- Fryderyk Award in the Jazz Album of the Year for Lirycs
  • 2005 - Fryderyk Award in the Jazz Album of the Year for Trio
  • 2009 - Fryderyk Award in the Jazz Album of the Year for January
  • 2011 - "Mateusz" Music Award of the National Radio Channel 3 in the Jazz Music category for the record Faithful