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Album Review

Espen Eriksen Trio featuring Andy Sheppard: In The Mountains

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Espen Eriksen Trio featuring Andy Sheppard: In The Mountains
Formed in 2007, with personnel which has remained unchanged since, the Espen Eriksen Trio released its first Rune Grammofon album, You Had Me At Goodbye, in 2010. Since then, they have regularly released albums on the label, the most recent being End of Summer (2020). Prior to the current release, their only album which did not feature the trio alone was Perfectly Unhappy (2018) on which they were joined by the renowned British saxophonist Andy Sheppard.

In the Mountains is notable for several reasons; it is the trio's first live album, comprising five tracks recorded in 2018 and 2020 at Nasjonal Jazzscene in Oslo, one recorded at a special one-off concert at Propeller Music Division in Oslo in 2020, and one in Poznam, Poland, in 2021. On three tracks, the trio is again joined by Sheppard. Six of the seven tracks are extended versions of Eriksen compositions from past albums; while three of those are from Perfectly Unhappy, only "1974" features Sheppard, the other two tracks on which he plays—"Anthem" and "In the Mountains"—being from trio albums.

Yes, the current album takes its title from a track previously issued on Never Ending January (2015); the version here, with Sheppard, explores the piece more extensively and takes it to places it did not previously go, thus justifying its title-track status. However, such transformation is a two-way-street, as tracks that previously included Sheppard sound very different as piano trio pieces, particularly when played live in front of an audience. "Perfectly Unhappy" is one example, being notable for Lars Tormod Jenset's fine bass work alongside Eriksen's beguiling piano.

The current album's seventh track is here recorded by the trio for the first time, a version of "Rosemary's Baby" by Krzysztof Komeda from his film soundtrack. Incidentally, the Eriksen composition "Komeda" was a track on the trio's second album, 2012's What Took You So Long, hinting at the pianist's admiration for the legendary Pole. As a finale to the album, "Rosemary's Baby" is well chosen, its mellow, melodic atmosphere being a great way to sign off and leave listeners craving more. All things considered, In the Mountains is a first-rate album which should satisfy existing admirers of the trio as it comprises live recordings. And, as it features excellent versions of compositions from the trio's past releases, it also serves as a fine place for the uninitiated to begin.

Track Listing

1974; Anthem; Suburban Folk Song; In The Mountains; Perfectly Unhappy; Dancing Demons; Rosemary’s Baby.

Personnel

Espen Eriksen: piano; Lars Tormod Jenset: bass; Andreas Bye: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Andy Sheppard: saxophone (on tracks 1, 2 &4)

Album information

Title: In The Mountains | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Rune Grammofon


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