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Tingvall Trio: Birds

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Tingvall Trio: Birds
There seems to be a strong desire to place music into a defined category: swamp blues, emo rap, indie-folk etc. Sometimes this can be useful, but occasionally an artist comes along who can blur those boundaries and be successful in many areas. One example would be Ludovico Einaudi, who has opened up classical music to many, but struggles to find total acceptance within the classical music world, despite, at the time of writing, having over a million downloads a day.

Not on the same scale as Einaudi, but having similar crossover appeal is pianist, Martin Tingvall, leader of Tingvall Trio. He has broadened the appeal of jazz to many through his use of accessible melodies and catchy hooks. As with many Swedish pianists who lead a trio, there are naturally comparisons with fellow-Swede, Esbjorn Svensson and e.s.t. This is perhaps inevitable, but Tingvall Trio has created a distinctive sound of its own, focusing on the natural sounds of their instruments.

As you would expect from the title, Birds, takes its inspiration from our avian friends. All tracks are composed by Tingvall. The music here is well-rehearsed and as tight as you would expect from a trio that has recorded nine albums and toured globally for 20 years. Unusually, the trio has remained unchanged throughout this time and includes Cuban bassist, Omar Rodriguez Calvo and German drummer, Jürgen Spiegel. The trio is now based in Hamburg, Germany.

The opening track, "Woodpecker," features piano and bass in a repeating pattern. Calvo follows a different path as the theme develops with swaying piano. The joyous "Africa" follows with uplifting piano pealing against Spiegel's African rhythms. This is followed by an engaging bass break from Calvo before the theme returns. As often occurs with Tingvall Trio, what initially sounds simple is layered and finely detailed. Joyous it may be, but be warned, this track is a relentless ear-worm.

"SOS" follows and reflects Tingvall's concerns regarding the changes in bird behaviour caused by global warming. It features chattering drums, pulsing morse-code bass and dramatic piano runs, as it builds to a crescendo. The melancholy "The Day After," the bluesy title track and the plaintive, "The Return," (see the YouTube below), are among the tracks to benefit from Calvo's bowed bass, which adds to the sonic phrases available. Fast single notes on the piano usher in the gentle melody of "Humming Bird," which increases tempo as the theme is explored. The album ends with "A Call for Peace," a solo and reflective piano piece.

Tingvall Trio is multi-award winning and have a strong audience across Europe. This album should certainly broaden their appeal further, both geographically and with people who normally do not listen to jazz. An expressive album, full of dramatic flair, offering many emotions, styles and depths. As for categories, file under Excellent.

If you are planning on being in London on Wednesday 16 August 2023, you may like to know that Tingvall Trio will be playing at Ronnie Scotts.

Track Listing

Woodpecker; Africa; SOS; The Day After; Air Guitar; Birds; Birds of Paradise; The Return; Nuthatch; Humming Bird; Nighttime; A Call for Peace.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Birds | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Skip Records GmbH


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