Of late, multi-reed player, singer, composer and arranger Pernille Bévort has alternated between the elegant, quirky jazz of the Bévort/Schmidt quartet, and Radio Bévort, a jazz/tango project with bandoneon player Marcelo Nisinman or accordionist Francesco Cali. Playground + 1 (Calibrated, 2007) with Schmidt and Perfect Organisation (Gateway, 2011) with Nisinman represent only part of Bévort's talents, as she also plays, writes and arranges for some of Denmark's most important big bands. This latter facet of Bévortthe union of multiple voicescolors her trio debut with Bévort 3, the leader's most stripped-down, straight ahead offering for some time.
A striking aspect of Trio temptations is the music's undulating mood from track to track. That's not to say that the music is eclectic. On the contrary, the nature of this bassless trio means that chords are implied in the flowing lines and intuitive interplay, as opposed to dictating the changes overtly, creating a feeling of openness and expansiveness throughout these eleven originals. On several tracks Bévort layers combinations of saxophones and bass clarinet, effecting a little big band feel, notably on the driving "Minor Clues (Take Two)"; drummer Espen Laub von Lillienskjold and bassist Peter Hanson's tremendous groove and riffing saxophones propel Bévort's melodic improvisation on a tune that happily evokes Quincy Jones
Bévort incorporates layered reed sounds on other tracks: on the sultry "Almost Gone" bass clarinet and tenor dovetail following a lithe tenor solo; soprano and tenor saxophones intertwine harmonically on "Power Peach," a buoyant reworking of a track that appeared on My Shop (Cope Records, 2004); on the lullaby "Vuggevise" Bévort embeds velvety reeds beneath her quietly singing soprano. Less overt, though central to the more up-tempo music is the affinity between bass and saxophone lines, with Von Lillienskjold's accents adding subtle textures to the mix, in addition to rhythmic guile.
On the title trackonce the bass and tenor unison head dissolvesBévort releases a flow of melodic ideas while bass slides first into counterpoint and then into more independent lines. Von Lillienskjold quietly propels the trio, coming into his own near the death when he cuts loose over a gutsy bass vamp and repeating tenor motif. With the fireworks spent, the trio returns gracefully to the head. The jaunty, incisive rhythms of "A Rabbit's Fairytale" underpin firey soprano play from Bévort, though there's elbow room for Hanson and Von Lillienskjold to strut before the trio reunites on the pretty melody.
Whether stretching out on the highly melodic hard-bopper "This is not Seven Eleven," following more abstract paths on the start-stop, free-form "The Band is On" or whether exploring slower, bluesy terrain on the ballads "November, November" and Von Liilienskjold's "Ballad to You," the trio's chemistry is pronounced. There's intensity too, regardless of the tempo. Melody is central to Bévort's craft, so much so that her improvisation on "Life's a Roundabout" in effect is the composition, though the tuneful ditty of the head lingers long in the memory.
Trio Temptations stands out as one of Bévort's very best recordings. Simple in concept perhaps, but the sophisticated arrangements and the vibrant trio dialogues make for compelling listening.
Track Listing: Trio Temptations; Almost Gone; A Rabbit’s Fairytale; Ballad to You; This is Not Seven Eleven; Life is a Roundabout; The Band is On; November, November; Power Peach; Minor Clues (Take Two); Vuggevise.
Personnel: Pernille Bévort: tenor & soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, all additional reeds; Peter Hanson: bass; Espen Laub von Lillienskjold: drums.