Posted on May 19th 2010 12:38 am
ESPEN ERIKSEN TRIO
You Had Me At Goodbye
Rune Grammofon 2010
08 Tracks. 37mins30secs
This debut album from Espen Eriksen Trio is something of a rarity on Rune Grammofon; a record so smooth, gentle and beautifully melodic that it breaks with the label’s experimental tradition to open up towards very different grounds. Led by pianist Espen Eriksen, who, beside playing with some of the best Scandinavian jazz artists, including Mats Eilertsen and Thomas Strønen, has also over the years dabbled in pop music, the ensemble also comprises bassist Lars Tormod Jenset, who is also a member of swing trio Hot N Spicy and experimental jazz/folk ensemble Rodent, and drummer Andreas Bye, who regularly plays with the likes of Håkon Kornstad, Joshua Redman, Nils Petter Molvær or John Scofield, and was once a member of Bugge Wesseltoft’s New Conception Of Jazz.
You Had Me At Goodbye is a fairly concise affair, barely going over the half hour mark and containing just seven compositions. This restricted space and the all-acoustic approach of the constrained trio formation mean that every single note is vital to the equilibrium of the record and of the ensemble. This however goes totally unnoticed, so fluid and exquisite is the music, and so precise and controlled is the delivery. Eriksen’s piano dominates pretty much the whole record, its wonderful melodies, from the achingly beautiful opening piece Anthem, and delicate motifs of In The Woods, which previously appeared on the fourth instalment in the Runeology series, to the more upbeat and layered Masaka Tsara or the luxurious and contrasted On The Jar, are incredibly rich, subtle and flowing, but Jenset’s warm and rounded bass provides a superb earthy counterpoint, especially on Masaka Tsara, where he injects a complex groove in the background, the introspective Intermezzo, where he uses a bow to add to the melancholy of the piece, or On The Jar, whilst Bye adds some pretty refined drum brushes throughout.
Espen Eriksen’s ensemble has been compared to Tord Gustavsen and the late Esbjörn Svensson’s EST, but there is on Goodbye a level of clarity and versatility that makes the trio totally unique. The compositions are stripped down and yet show extreme refinement, both in the melodies and in the relation between all three instruments as they make their minimal set up sound at once rich and colourful. You Had Me At Goodbye is their remarkable debut.
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