Danish pianist Søren Bebe has carved a niche for himself with his particular brand of mournful Nordic ballads, which have enchanted not only Europeans, but also a Japanese audience that has embraced the bittersweet nostalgia that imbues many of his compositions.
Thus, it is no coincidence that the Japanese label, Spice of Life, picked up the release A Song For You, an album that sees Bebe in the familiar company of his trio with electric bassist Niels Ryde and drummer Anders Mogensen.
Gentle wind chimes and the hushed chords from the piano set the stage for "Maria," where Ryde's bass enters as a whisper in the night, and the title track is a cobweb of a fragile melody, with Mogensen's hand-played drums adding to the intimacy. Throughout, Mogensen is as tasteful an accompanist as they come, never drawing unnecessary attention towards himself. Instead, he invisibly keeps the music in motion and prevents it from meandering.
Ryde is another strong card. The thick sound of his bass is blissful combined with his keen understanding of space that allows Bebe's chords to be heard in all their chiming clarity. They never stumble over each other, but instead engage in an elegant dance. However, there are times when the bassist successfully enters the spotlight, as in the bluesy introduction to the traditional "Oh Shenandoah."
While it is easy to be lost in the elegant touches of the individuals that make up the trio, its strength lies in its unity of expression. The album is a slow burner that gradually unfolds in understated grandeur. Here, poignant musical stories are told for those with patience to really listen.
Søren Bebe already has other interesting projects lined up in the future, among them a most promising collaboration with bassist Marc Johnson, but for now, A Song For You is ample evidence that he has arrived at another artistic plateau.
Maria; A Song For You; Oh Shenandoah; Hope; Nocturne; Country Road; Remembering; Again And Again; A Song For You, Too; Free, Free, Set Them Free.
Søren Bebe: piano; Niels Ryde: electric bass; Anders Mogensen: drums.