Espen Eriksen Trio: End Of Summer

In brief:
"Impeccably performed, full of crisp, beguiling melodies and improvisations that are thoughtful without neglecting feeling, this is an album I will continue to listen to for pleasure well beyond the requirements of finishing this review"

Eriksen’s trio has been going since 2007 with the same personnel and has maintained a distinctive personality through the intervening years. This is their first basic trio album since Never Ending January in 2015, but in 2018 Andy Sheppard was incorporated into the group for Perfectly Unhappy. Eriksen says that that collaboration will continue for a long time, but not to the exclusion of the trio.

The trio’s debut album was You Had Me At Goodbye (2010) and I recall writing in a review that they had me at the hallo of their first track, Anthem. (Sorry ’bout that.) Their m.o. has not changed … lithe, willowy, spare and sometimes sinewy melodies seem to flower of their own accord, a mark of how subtle and skilful the musicians are in their improvisations. You might not think that music of such restraint, delicacy and subtlety could grab the attention so immediately, but Eriksen’s trio consistently achieves that, and all in pin-sharp yet warm sound.

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The first three tunes feel like they might have been inspired by the same or similar material, with phrases that have hints of traditional music. Dancing Demons, although far more elegant and controlled than the title might suggest, develops toward an animated ending that paves the way for the opening passages of the Latin-inflected title track, which finally reverts to a more serene mood. Transparent Darkness starts with an almost ceremonial feel, leading into a section featuring an attractive solo by Jenset, whose bass then introduces the tune of A Long Way from Home. (I should mention that both he and Bye’s sensitive drumming make satisfying contributions throughout.) The graceful Reminiscence is a gorgeous piece to end with.

This is music you could easily relax to or escape into as a refuge from these worrying times, but it is much more than mood music. Impeccably performed, full of crisp, beguiling melodies and improvisations that are thoughtful without neglecting feeling, this is an album I will continue to listen to for pleasure well beyond the requirements of finishing this review.

Discography
Where The River Runs; Back To Base; Dancing Demons; End Of Summer; Transparent Darkness; A Long Way From Home; Reminiscence (37.19)
Eriksen (p); Lars Tormod Jenset (b); Andreas Bye (d). Oslo, April 2020.
Rune Grammofon RCD 2216/RLP3216

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