116

Sten Sandell Trio: Oval

Nic Jones By

Sign in to view read count
Sten Sandell Trio: Oval Pianist Sten Sandell and his trio have excelled themselves on record in 2007, and listeners accordingly owe a debt of gratitude to both Intakt and Cleanfeed labels, whose "Strokes documented the trio in the company of saxophonist John Butcher for a program of music that exemplifies in-the-moment creativity of an uncommon order.

In comparison, Oval thus has a lot to live up to, but the trio's flagrant disregard for precedents and regard for the values of individual and collective identity somehow render the comparison irrelevant. This is a working unit of the highest order and that's abundantly obvious on "Ovala Takter I, the opening passage of which finds Standell working with the piano strings and in conjunction with bassist Johan Berthling, evoking a dry, arid soundscape pulsing with life. As the piece evolves the energy level rises, but these players are so closely in tune with their craft that they stay clear of Cecil Taylor's looming shadow. Theirs is arguably music more alert to nuance as well, so that the ebb and flow of the piece, whilst profoundly the consequence of spontaneous form, is subject also to the musicians' whims in the best sense of the term.

If the point needs to be reiterated that this is a group marking out its own distinctive territory, then "Ovala Takter II is the place where it happens. Standell is clearly alert to and aware of every possibility the piano has to offer as a producer of sound. The degree to which he subverts the idea of the keyboard virtuoso is admirable, even whilst it suggests nothing other than the fact that he's a virtuoso himself. There are greater ends than the mere showing off that virtuosity can imply and some of them are obvious here.

"Ovala Takter III, in turn, puts that message across in a way that almost turns the program into a manifesto. For a while, the dialogue between Standell and Berthling is strong enough to suggest that drummer Paal Nillssen-Love is somehow superfluous, but as the piece progresses it becomes obvious this is down to the latter's acutely sensitive listening.

This is a piano trio working well outside the norm, and consequently it's very much on whatever the cutting edge amounts to these days. The music it makes is rich and profoundly rewarding.


Track Listing: Ovala Takter I; Ovala Takter II; Ovala Takter III; Oval Ballad.

Personnel: Sten Sandell: piano, voice; Johan Berthling: bass; Paal Nilssen-Love: drums, percussion.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Intakt Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Burning Ghosts" CD/LP/Track Review Burning Ghosts
by Troy Collins
Published: July 21, 2016
Read "En Rouge" CD/LP/Track Review En Rouge
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 6, 2016
Read "Eleven Promises" CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Promises
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 30, 2016
Read "Skylines" CD/LP/Track Review Skylines
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 13, 2016
Read "Night Music" CD/LP/Track Review Night Music
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 4, 2016
Read "Live at the JazzRoom" CD/LP/Track Review Live at the JazzRoom
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!