The art of the piano trio is very difficult to master and yet very simple. It is all about chemistry. Three players trying to find a language together, traversing a path that has been explored so many times before.
Keeping the heavy heritage of the piano trio in mind, including leaders like Bill Evans, Ahmad Jamal, Oscar Peterson and Keith Jarrett, it is even more impressive when a young piano trio releases a debut that already seems fully formed. Pianist Simon Eskildsen and his trio with bassist Thomas Sejthen and drummer Daniel Sommer have done exactly that.
Eskildsen is a vital part of the bourgeoning jazz scene in Aarhus. Forget about Copenhagen for a moment, Aarhus is where young Danish jazz is moving forward today with the label Jaeger Collective and names like trumpeter Jakob Sørensen, pianist Kasper Staub, bassist Jens Mikkel Madsen and guitarist Alex Jonsson.
Eskildsen has contributed to the scene not only as a pianist, but also as a distinctive illustrator whose works have graced albums by the band I Think You're Awesome and Alex Jönsson. On the album, Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio, he transfers his ability to paint with colors to the piano. The opener "Goru" has some gorgeous chords from Eskildsen, whose susceptible patterns bring the master Bill Evans to mind. Bassist Sejthen enters unexpectedly and a swinging groove is established with Sommer's featherweight touch on the cymbals. There is a receptive dynamic at work here where the musicians are having a close conversation with the music and silence.
Another noticeable thing is Eskildsen's gift as a melodic composer. He creates themes that are worth exploring and the folk-like simplicity of the tune "Fredet Land" shows that pianist Jan Johansson's influence has reached across the borders of Sweden.
Throughout the album, there is a dynamic sense of swinging lyricism and playfulness. Simple melodic figures are balanced by sophisticated chord progressions and given room to breathe. Hopefully, the introduction of this particular trio is the beginning of a long musical relationship and many more records to come.
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