Blowing the trumpet for a Polish jazz trio founded on belief music is a truly family affair

AS THE music of Chopin goes wall-to-wall during this, his bicentenary year, keep an ear out for another Polish piano adept, currently exploring the ever-expanding universe of the jazz piano trio rather than preludes and mazurkas.

A protg of Poland's pre-eminent jazz star, trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, Marcin Wasilewski is now carving out a reputation with his own trio, which plays the only Scottish gig of its UK tour at Edinburgh's Queen's Hall on 10 June.

All in their early thirties, the Marcin Wasilewski Trio, with the pianist accompanied by Slawomir Kurkiewicz on double bass and drummer Michal Miskiewicz, may still merit the term "young band", but they have two decades of hard playing in distinguished company behind them. Wasilewski and Kurkiewicz first met as 15-year-olds at the Koszalin High School of Music, discovering a mutual interest in jazz, and their first trio took shape the following year, with drummer Miskiewicz joining them in 1993.

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The Simple Acoustic Trio, as it was initially known, inspired by Chick Corea's Acoustic Trio, won awards and released several albums on Polish labels before recording an album for Europe's premier jazz label, ECM, whose founder/producer Manfred Eicher suggested they change their name to the Marcin Wasilewski Trio. During that period, they also became the accompanists of choice for Stanko, another ECM luminary, who is on record as commenting: "In the entire history of Polish jazz we've never had a band like this one. They just keep getting better and better."

Ask Wasilewski his musical influences and he'll quote you a who's who of seminal jazz names, from John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock to contemporary European masters (and ECM stablemates) such as Keith Jarrett, Bobo Stenson and Jan Garbarek, but clearly Stanko has been an important mentor.

"My own father is a musician, the mother of our bass player is a musician and our drummer's father is a well known saxophone player, but our musical father is Tomasz Stanko," he says.

"We met him when we were just 16-18, and to start playing with such a big name and hero in the jazz world was real luck for us. We learned our musical language, and how to move in this world with him.

"At the same time," he adds cheerfully, "our approach had an impact on Tomasz as well."

Now a trio in their own right, post-Stanko, the music of Wasilewski and his colleagues can be gauged from their most recent album on ECM, January, a largely reflective and at times luminously toned mixture of self-penned tunes and a sometimes intriguing choice of covers, including a lingering meditation on Ennio Morricone's score for Cinema Paradiso, a warm toned and melodic cover of the Prince number Diamonds and Pearls and an edgy spinning out of Carla Bley's King Korn.

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So many sources – but the trio's Edinburgh concert will include a tribute to yet another pianist – and, says Wasilewski, another influence, for Fryderyk Chopin was, inevitably, among the classical giants he studied back at the Koszalin High School.

"I learned to read the music of Chopin and Bach and Beethoven and many other composers before I played jazz," he says.

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The three-way dynamics of piano, bass and drums have been industriously explored over the past half century, from classic exponents such as Oscar Petersen, Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner to such established contemporary names as Brad Mehldau, the late-lamented Esbjrn Svensson,Keith Jarrett and Bobo Stenson.

"It's a phenomenon," says Wasilewski enthusiastically. "Always the same keys pushed by the same number of fingers, but because of different minds and different ways of hearing music, I think the possibilities can never be finished."

• The Marcin Wasilewski Trio play the Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, on 10 June. For further information, see