As co-founder of one of the best European piano trios to follow E.S.T., Eva Kruse should be better known. Leaving [em] in 2011 to have a second child, Kruse resumed her career in 2014 with a new album, In Water (Redhorn), and a musical new direction. Revealing rather more composerly interests than did the heavily groove-based trio, In Water was quickly followed up with On The Mo in 2016, andKruse’s achievements were recognised with Jazz-Echo awards for top German bassist in 2015 and 2017.
Whenever I hear the oboe in jazz I think of Paul McCandless, and his early Vanguard and ECM recordings are certainly written into this group’s musical DNA. The timbres of the two very different reed instruments don’t so much contrast as shadow one another, creating a particular feel which is perfectly at home in Kruse’s chamber worlds.
It was recorded in Gothenburg just before Europe entered lockdown. Kruse’s hope is that the work’s title New Legend will be interpreted as a “new story”. Underlining her belief that music should always reveal something of the inner self, this is music that draws heavily on Kruse’s lived experience. Take the bittersweet Lifesaving Day for example, a piece which channels the hope and despair of her experiences of taking refugees into her home.
The wonderfully unspooling movements of the opening track build outwards from a rather inward looking motif, transitioning into a memorable and quite buoyant main theme. Steinmetz really digs in, before space then opens up for Kruse to take a typically virtuosic solo. Passacaglia plays with the old form, evidencing Kruse’s personal and professional interest in baroque music (see 2013’s New Eyes On Baroque). It serves as something of an interlude before Små Diameter I Ett Vattenfall captures the dancing movement of falling water. Still On The Mo stands apart with its earthy gospel feel, but it is Pendel that is probably my favourite track. As Kruse carries the folksy almost hymnal melody, nudged all the while by Schaefer’s sympathetic percussion, not a note seems out of place.
This is a beautifully nuanced album in which the strength of Kruse’s compositions is matched by the sensitivity of the soloists; it shows a very distinctive group maturing nicely.
New Legend; Passacaglia; Små Diameter I Ett Vattenfall; Epilog; Still On The Mo (Der Hahan Ist Tot); Pendel; Lifesaving Day; I Nådens År (46.57)
Kruse (b) with Uwe Steinmetz (as, ss); Tjadina Wake-Walker (o); Christian Jormin (p); Eric Schaeffer (d). March 2020, Gothenburg.