Whenever I get my hands on any new Scandinavian modern piano trio I cannot be more surprised. Looks like the torch of progress in that department is firmly hold by Northerners. Take for example their compatriots first: Tord Gustavsen, Espen Enriksen or another fresh newcomer I had a great pleasure to approach – Kjetil Mulelid. Or, to get more back in time, Swedish Super Group E.S.T.
Music of Esbjorn Svensson group simply dominated over decade from their rise in middle 90’s to the disband in the years after millennium and All That simply set up the new standards for Modern Piano Trio. But one needs to understand that the phenomena of the EST didn’t come from no-where, but from massive devotion to the tradition, which regarding to a native folk music study, created the brand-new language for emotional communication.
Here, with Oddgeir Berg Trio we are about to face the same sort of sensation, as Svensson’s Monk did some 23 years back. One can guess that easy that despite of the debut recording we do have here well-seasoned musicians who are playing the game on the very high level.
All sort of inspiration can be heard here as well, starting from classics like Horace Silver, Bill Evans, Sonny Clark or Monk. Then obviously Keith Jarret and Herbie Hancock. And those whom I listed above. But one can add to the melting pot Jimmy Hendrix, Petter Molvear , Miles Davis, late Coltrane, or the Bad Plus. It his highly spiritual tour de force pressing many buttons in my head and putting smile on my face.
The music is shaped perfectly and arrangements are making listening possible hours and hours without a trace of getting bored. From the first meaty riffs of the double bass opening the Mermaids’ Dance tune wonderful trip starts.
Following Oldies, opens with drums intro of an outstanding depth, to move into slow tempo piano invocation, remarkably romantic and touchy, with a bit of this so Jarret-esque touch of the Latin spirit. To me the discipline of the rhythm section together with an outstanding acoustic sense of space which contributes to this recording is a key factor here.
Following, Here Comes the Toughest, with its energetic, funk-a-delic section is a pure tribute to an electric Miles and in an extension automatically to Hancock’s vital piano virtuosity. The quote from his Watermelon Man, underlining the score with every upcoming chorus and going through the constant makeover says it all. So, does the tune called A.C.M, which additionally takes things out from where Esbjorn left them with tasty modulated piano sampling.
Lovely melancholic Waltzie, as the name suggests, dances with firmly stomping bass to the sparkling percussion tissue weaved by Klaus Robert Blomvik, the drummer who’s name I would strongly recommend remembering.
Short, coming after Slattesven is the one lasting hardly two minutes and is like a little poem with rhymes where few chords keep playing with rhythmic figures on the very fine edge, but it takes the skills and imagination to create little burlesque like that.
No point to go through all remaining tracks with the same analytic eye. Better to leave it for your ears and minds to enjoy and make your own discoveries. I can gladly promise you that you will soon get lost in connotations and immersive beauty of the tunes. Simply killing Debut and a MUST have LP for every Piano Trio fan.