Perhaps as I write this I am subconsciously influenced by the proximity of the British Museum and the Elgin Marbles, but something about last night lodges in my thoughts under the heading ‘Timeless’, something about earthly nature being united with ideal heavenly beauty. There were many moments in the opening concert at Pizza Express of guitarist Maciek Pysz’s Insight album tour that made a connection, for me anyway, between our physical presence, the transience of life and much deeper truths.
This is a trio of superstars, Yuri Goloubev on bass and Asaf Sirkis on percussion. They hadn’t played together since November but those intervening months have only served to deepen their harmony as a trio, their instinctive support of each other. There was a darker feeling to the compositions, they took them slightly slower than the album, giving us the opportunity to relish the cool transcendency of Asaf’s drumming, the earthiness of Yuri’s mastery of his bass where the vibrations of his bowing come through the floor to connect you to the sound, and Maciek’s delight in tiny sounds like static floating in the air. His was a restrained performance, not showy, just impressive by what it omitted.
To celebrate the start of the tour, Maciek invited Tim Garland to join them for several compositions including a new piece by Maciek called Desert. When Tim joined them for Those Days, the slightly Elizabethan dance feel of the original became a dark dense tango. And Insights (with its many notes) was strongly syncopated. But perhaps the zenith of this celestial evening was Ralph Towner’s Beneath an Evening Sky, which Tim has played with Ralph Towner. The gentle serene soprano sax in conversation with the guitar was very special, with space for Yuri and Asaf to add to the quiet atmosphere, the tiny pattering steps of hands on udu drum grounding us again.
A couple of weeks ago I speculated whether this guitar/sax partnership would be Bill Frisell / Tom Rainey or Ralph Towner / Jan Garbarek. It was neither of course, it was subtle and mellow, and deeply satisfying. After the final piece, the audience were silent for just a beat, we had been taken somewhere very special.
Try to see this wonderful trio somewhere on their tour. You will catch some of the magic.
Photo by Clement Regert.
Mary James 26 March 2014