by Ian Mann
May 21, 2013
An impressively mature and assured piece of work that suggests a bright and productive future for these three young Scandinavians.
“De Som Er Eldre Enn Voksne”
(ABC Tunes ABCCD07)
Lauv (I think the name is Norwegian for “Leaf”) describe themselves as a “Nordic jazz trio” with the group members hailing from Norway and the Faroe Islands, I think it’s the first time the Faroes have made it on to my personal jazz map.
Pianist Kjetil Andre Mulelid, bassist Bardur Reinert Poulsen and drummer Kim Christer Hylland met at the now justly famous NTNU Jazz Academy in Trondheim, Norway in 2011 and play a mix of composed and freely improvised material. They describe their music as including “elements of jazz, pop, psalms, and folk music.”
This four track EP (the title means “Those Who Are Older Than Adults”) represents an impressively mature piece of work. Yes, Lauv’s music clearly shows the influence of more senior Nordic jazz piano combos, notably the Helge Lien and Tord Gustavsen trios, maybe a touch of Bobo Stenson and E.S.T. too, but they also have plenty to say on their own account.
The composed elements of Lauv’s music are highly melodic as emphasised by the opening “Kanskje i morgen” which begins with Mulelid’s sparse, Gustavsen like piano chording above Hylland’s lightly brushed accompaniment and periodic mallet rumbles. The piece slowly evolves and develops from there, opening up like a flower but regularly returning to the opening leitmotif. It’s all beautifully lyrical and likely to hold considerable appeal to the many fans of Tord Gustavsen’s music.
Next up is “Hubro”, also the name of an increasingly influential Norwegian record label whose logo is an owl so maybe that’s what the title means. The piece begins with Hylland’s delicately detailed solo drum intro before Poulsen picks out a motif on electric bass that is subsequently developed by Mulelid on piano and the trio as a whole. The thoughtful mid tune dialogue between piano and brushed drums is absorbing and expands into something more effusive with Poulsen’s electric bass returning to the fray. It’s the most energetic playing of the set thus far ,a good demonstration of the trio’s dynamic range and proof that they can do more than just the “ECM style balladry” thing.
“Skjong” begins in trademark lyrical fashion with the trio again developing the wisp of melody into something more substantial. For a young band they exhibit a remarkable sense of form and structure and an admirable patience and restraint as they give their ideas room to breathe.Their obvious maturity makes the EP title seem highly appropriate.
A more obviously improvised passage featuring Poulsen’s bass and judicious use of electronica reveals another side of the trio’s playing mid tune. A flowing piano solo supported by purring electric bass and neatly energetic drumming then seems to bring the piece to an anthemic close but Lauv then reveal a sense of daring by leaving the piece hanging in the air, the expected resolution never comes and we’re left with a musical question mark.
The closing “Svenborg” begins with Hylland’s idiosyncratic and atmospheric drum intro featuring hand drumming, cymbal scrapes and small percussive devices. Mulelid then introduces an almost E..S.T. like groove, the basis for some colourful exchanges between piano and drums. The pianist then stretches out above buoyant electric bass grooves and increasingly energetic drumming. After a short lyrical interlude the piece resolves itself with a thrilling reprise of those earlier piano and drum exchanges. The pieces on the EP vary between five and seven minutes in length, the impressive Lauv certainly manage to squeeze plenty of ideas into these relatively modest running times.
I was hugely impressed by this début EP from Lauv, an impressively assured piece of work that suggests a bright and productive future for these three young Scandinavians. The only disappointment is that that this is not a full length album as I’d have liked to have heard more of their intriguing compositions.
That will no doubt surely come and should help to establish Lauv more fully on the European jazz map. Look out for Lauv, I’m certain that we’re going to be hearing a lot more from them.blog comments powered by Disqus