I know what you're thinking, the world doesn't need another piano trio. But I say, make way for the next wave. In order for jazz to perpetuate the species it must be continually reborn. New blood and more importantly, new approaches are crucial, lest we all get relegated to Lincoln Center.
Exhibit one, Birthday by the Polish/Italian/Danish trio Il Sogno might be the proof that evolution in jazz is unstoppable. The Denmark-based trio of pianist Emanuele Maniscalco, bassist Tomo Jacobson, and drummer Oliver Laumann recorded this LP (and digital download) in Italy in 2015. The sound comes from the European tradition, but is also infused with an African-American flavor. In a blindfold test, many of us would mistake the outing for a Manfred Eicher ECM Records session, but there is something else afoot here. Maybe it's the blend of Scandinavian nobility with Italian emotion, and Polish romance, or Scandinavian emotion with Italian romance and Polish pride, or...that melds this recording.
The LP opens with "Paintfall," a roiling kettle of bells and an idling pulse, with Maniscalco repeating a piano theme. Il Sogno creates in 3:33, the same atmosphere the Australian band The Necks builds in an hour long set. Other pieces like "Il Giorno" and "Sonar" build upon this percussive and minimalist motif, exchanging impulse for emotion. When the trio does move towards melody and more traditional song form with the title track and a cover of Ennio Morricone's "Cheyenne," there's a stoicism about their approach. Each musician practices a dogged imperturbability, making the music intimate and haunting.
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