Edinburgh Jazz Festival

Aga Derlak Trio

Rose Theatre

Rob Adams

three stars

IN THE Rose Theatre’s main auditorium upstairs, the well-established The Bad Plus were soundchecking powerfully, while downstairs in this fine addition to Edinburgh’s venue stock’s basement another group with the same instrumentation but an entirely different approach were making their festival debut.

Pianist Aga Derlak, double bassist Tymon Trabczynski and drummer Bartosz Szablowski met at music school and are now five years and two albums into their life as Derlak’s trio.

Their time together has clearly helped them to form a strong bond, as this very self-contained performance illustrated.

Derlak composes with great care. There’s a meticulousness in her often very delicate melodies that’s matched by arrangements where bass and drums have very precise parts to punctuate and support her playing, and Trabczynski and Szablowski comply with admirable ease. It’s very much a group effort even if most of the focus falls on their nominal leader.

What impresses about Derlak is her variety of attack. Her ballad playing finds her caressing phrases and letting the sound hang in the air a little but she can also move through the gears, bringing a steely intensity to faster tempos. If her tendency to sing along as she improvises can be a bit distracting, this is assuaged to some extent by her ability to develop a line of thought to its logical, if not necessarily predictable conclusion and to alter the pace and dynamics as she goes.

Trabczynski and Szablowski’s roles are generally at the service of the music as a whole but both took solo features that were creative and showed their individual tones and talents while staying within the considered group aesthetic.