The prolific Polish RGG trio – pianist Łukasz Ojdana (who replaced the original R pianist, Przemysław Raminiak, about a decade ago), double bass player Maciej Garbowski and drummer Krzysztof Gradziuk – has been working since 2001 and releasing 11t albums under its name (and a few more with fellow-Polish vocalist Anna Gadt as her quartet). In recent years the trio has collaborated with innovative European improvisers as the British sax players Evan Parker and Trevor Watts, Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser and Finnish trumpeter Verneri Pohjola.
«Memento», however, is focused on reserved, melodic themes and more common forms of Slavic lyricism and melancholia, with few minor twists. Garbowski’s opening «Tenderness» sets the contemplative, chamber jazz atmosphere, and some of his compositions as «Elleve» and «Versus» have the qualities of beautiful songs that linger on in the memory of the listener long after «Memento» ends. Ojdana’s «Monachium» and «Ellipsis» charges this modest, introverted atmosphere with playful, tension but also with delicate melancholia, especially on «Hombre con Sombrero» and the mysterious «We Śnie» (In a dream), inspired by a poem by Polish poet Bolesław Leśmian.
Even when the RGG trio covers Ornette Coleman’s classic «Chronology» (from «The Shape of Jazz to Come», Atlantic, 1959), its version is more ethereal and solemn than swinging and playful. Only Garbowski ‘s «Furiant» manages to follow RGG’s adventurous spirit from the last few, more improvised albums.
The last three pieces are arrangements of modern music by Polish composers. «Szeroka Woda» (Broad water) by Henryk Mikołaj Górecki is played as a quiet folk song. This piece leads to the meditative reading of Górecki’s «Three Pieces In Old Style I» and to the beautiful «Gloria Tibi Domine» by Jacek Gałuszka, known as a composer of liturgical music.
Łukasz Ojdana (p), Maciej Garbowski (b), Krzysztof Gradziuk (dr)