By Ron Coulter
Distant Heroes is the November 30, 2020 release from Wojtek Fedkowicz’s Noise Trio. Based in Poland, the trio is comprised of Fedkowicz on drum set and electronics, Jacek Fedkowicz on bass and electronics, and Dominik Wania on piano and electronics.
This is very listenable, groove-oriented contemporary jazz, with nothing all that noisey going on, aside from some occasional electronic timbres and a few moments of energized “out” improvising. The album showcases a nice variety from the trio, from the purely acoustic to the smooth integration of live electronics, straight eighth-note grooves that go from smooth to funky to Drum & Bass, and even flashes of textural improvisation and rhythmic adventurism (see track #1 Intro and track #7 Distant Heroes respectively).
Tracks #2 Prosta historia, #6 Hope, and #9 Guru share forms, with contemplative introductions, long slow builds (rhythmically, dynamically, improvisationally) and a short recapitulation of the introduction. These three tracks are quite reminiscent of the Esbjörn Svensson Trio (E.S.T.).
Track #8 Nobody Wants has a grandiose, driving eighth-note groove, and track #5 Imaginary Space, runs through intricate rhythmic interplay, a heavy piano-driven rock feel, free textural atmospheres, and a seven-second, hyper-rhythmic free improvisation to end. These two tracks have flashes of the Bad Plus, Robert Glasper Trio, and maybe even a bit of Flim & The BB’s!
The remaining tracks all have unique places in the whole. Track #3 Baroque has an aimless, hinting, ECM style/feel, while track #4 Norman’s Flight is certainly Drum & Bass influenced, and track #10 Polish Funk is just as advertised with a funky, bassline driven, off-balance 9/8 groove that proceeds to 5/4 during the piano solo.
The music on this album covers a wide gamut of style, sounding familiar and yet indistinct in origin. Some of the tracks are outliers, sounding like they may belong on a different album altogether. However, the unifying quality of Distant Heroes is a strong sense of musical rapport from the trio and a clarity of focus and adventurous spirit of improvising within each track.
This is an enjoyable album that doesn’t demand intense, focused listening, although it has the musical depth to support that sort of deeply engaged listening experience too. Listeners will find themselves returning to Distant Heroes for repeated listenings, whether on the road or relaxing at home.