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3x3: Piano Trios: January 2022


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Little North
Familiar Places
April Music

While Little North's elegant variety of Scandinavian not-really-abstract impressionism stays as Northern as ever, their musical landscape is anything but little. Their second outing keeps all the strengths of their evocative debut Finding Seagulls (Self Produced, 2021) and expands in ways big and small. While the trio's close familiarity gives depth to the musical pictures they like to paint, some guitar and trumpet add more shadings subtle and occasionally electrifying.

The eloquent patience gives way to a few more high-energy peaks than before—see the soaring "Push" taking a cue or two from Terje Rypdal, or "Huntress" building a jittery dramatic groove around some almost tribal drums. Benjamin Nørholm Jacobsen stays to semi-hypnotic patterns at the piano as often as melody lines, giving the other players plenty of space to push and pull without anyone needing to be an obvious lead. Familiar these musical places may be, but they're also equally compelling and mysterious.

Confusion Project
Day Music

With the body of a jazz trio hiding the soul of a juiced-up prog-rock outfit, Confusion Project spins a sneaky kind of fusion covering the best of both worlds. There's some literal electricity in the mix courtesy of Piotr Gierszewski's warm supple bass, and a lot more of the figurative kind coursing through Michal Ciesielski's continually twisting pieces. While the pieces aren't simple, the interplay is as direct as it gets, and their sparkling chemistry is more prominent than the precision and tricky rhythms.

Intricate as it gets, Last eschews obvious grandeur in favor of genuine emotion. Even while musing on some heavy themes (the anxiety of the times and the world's possible future), the trio romps through its emotion and drama without any bombast. The melodies snake and twirl, the volume swells and often crashes, and still it remains suited to clubs rather than arenas. This is a group uncompromising, almost confrontational and yet perfectly accessible throughout.

Bernt Moen
The Storm
Losen Records

Bernt Moen offers another helping of emotion and drama here as well, but this time it's a particularly understated kind. In an almost perverse illustration of the title, The Storm only rarely breaks loose. eases in by gently lulling us for a good quarter of its run. Moen shows a romantic (and Romantic) streak that taps into his European classical roots with some quiet meditations -and then on a dime, it's suddenly pure rock and roll with Fredrik Sahlander picking up an electric bass and Jan Inge Nilsen crashing like a wild man at the drums. With the randomness of actual storms, it turns calm again just as suddenly with a Beethoven-like nocturne. They touch on warm soul and classy grooving, then roil to a wild finish, still always surrounded by small oases of simple beauty.

Tracks and Personnel

Familiar Places

Tracks: Running Down the Park; It's Beginning to Rain Again; Calystegia; Push; Spotting Salamanders; Einar; Tide; Huntress; Ind i det Azurblå.

Personnel: Benjamin Nørholm Jacobsen: piano; Lasse Jacobsen: drums; Martin Brunbjerg Rasmussen: bass; Kasper Tranberg: trumpet; Viktor Spasov: guitar.


Tracks: Last; Denial; Anxiety; Downfall; Please Remember My World; Afterwards; Acceptance.

Personnel: Michał Ciesielski: piano; Piotr Gierszewski: bass guitar; Adam Golicki: drums.

The Storm

Tracks: A Sense of Urgency; Majestic; The Search for Absolution; Relentless; In Retrospect; Leisurely; The Storm Intro; The Storm; Ode; Floating; Passing By, Not Too Fast, Not Too Slow; Sakral.

Personnel: Bernt Moen: piano; Fredrik Sahlander: bass; Jan Inge Nilsen: drums.

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