Presenting an equal amount of originals and covers/standards, Norwegian pianist Eivind Austad
's New Orleans Trio channels The Big Easy's musical spirit through gospel-tinged ruminations, extended blues forms and a healthy portion of New Orleans shuffle on the collaboration's debut effort. Following only a year after Austad's sophomore outing Northbound
(Losen Records, 2019) saw the light of day, That Feeling
takes up the geographical connectivity of its predecessor, but this time around moves to the music to Louisiana along the Mississippi river, giving an impressively authentic and uplifting rendition of the rootsy jazz tradition that bore the likes of Louis Armstrong
and the New Orleans Rhythm Kings.
While the conceptual dealing with New Orleans jazz may seem a bit worn-out on the surface, a closer look at this specific gathering of forces reveals a joyous occasion of engaged musicianship and impressive craft. The date's success might have something to do with the experience and outstanding quality of Austad's collaborators in New Orleans locals James Singleton
on bass and Johnny Vidachovic
on drums, but the pianist's own deep connection with the celebratory emotion and festive tradition of the music is apparent in every beat of this album.
Throughout the album Austad puts a special emphasis on the melodiousness of his right-hand play and only adds minimal left-hand comping, in order to let Singleton's vibrant bass lines propel the trio on and drive its swing forward in a lively pulsating manner. The opener, "724 Blues," captures this notion aptly and lets Austad's virtuoso right-hand embellishments swirl and twirl to the expansive blues form in a nimble fashion, adequately supported by the pristine sonic transparency of the recording. A meditative quality accompanies "Esplanade Drive," another Austad-penned score, and gives the trio plenty of room for patient interplay and comfortable sonic elaborations, whereas the Charles Crozat Converse-penned hymn, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," sees the band bring marching drums into gospel, before turning a tame shuffle into cozy swing.
Other standards on the record demonstrate how elegantly Vidachovic and Singleton are able to frame and then highlight Austad's sophisticated keystrokes. Calm and special humility define the trio's rendition of the Spencer Williams
ballad "Basin Street Blues," while Ornette Coleman
's familiar "Turnaround" is approached with a fresh, grounded posture and revived by a Monkish unpretentiousness that is hard to come by in any piano trio. A somewhat unexpected addition to the set is the George Harrison
-penned "Something." Dressed in a patient gospel garment that suits the tune and the trio surprisingly well, the Beatle classic completes a terrifically sequenced ode to a jazz tradition that continues to age well but never gets old.
724 Blues; Soul of a Twain; Basin Street Blues; Turnaround; Esplanade Drive; Something; What a
Friend We Have in Jesus; That Feeling.