Runar Nørsett Trio: My Funny Quarantine

Nordic trio's dynamism and shuffle, funk and swing repertoire confound the Scandi stereotype of limp introspection


Here’s something I hadn’t seen coming: a Nordic piano trio release with plenty attitude, featuring healthy dollops of tough and assertive piano, strong albeit “breathing” shuffle grooves and backbeats and funky, in-the-pocket bass figures (Super Mario?, Stumbling And Fumbling, No Exit!) as well as some deliciously sprung swing (Fooling Around, Where The Songs Have No Name).

The whole is delivered with a capacity to shift and switch matters of attack, rhythm and dynamic register that’s redolent of Ahmad Jamal. Hear especially Super Mario?, Stumbling And Fumbling, Dønning and West Goes East.

Norwegians Nørsett and Solbakk – both excellent, strong yet dynamically sensitive players – are joined by Swedish electric bassist Sahlander, who contributes many a finely judged, now popping, now warmly intoned and sustained phrase in the post-Pastorius / Jonas Hellborg mode. Hear his ultra-melodic figures on No Exit! and Song For A Summer Night, the latter a freely phrased ballad which joins the solo piano coda that is the title track to offer complementary contrast to the more prevalent “up-and-at-’em” mood.

Complete with fine cover art and a relatively brief but informative narrative sleeve-note from Nørsett, who wrote all the material, this is the trio’s second album, following their 2019 release From The Ashes. It signals freshly delineated levels of group energy and imagination as heartening as they are invigorating. On this evidence, the Runar Nørsett Trio could be set to create some serious waves.

(1) Super Marlo?; Stumbling And Fumbling; Song For A Summer Night; Fooling Around; No Exit!; Where The Songs Have No Name; Dønning; West Goes East; (2) My Funny Quarantine (44.52)
(1) Nørsett (p); Fredrik Sahlander (elb); Tobias Øymo Solbakk (d). (2) as (1) but Sahlander & Solbakk out. Agder, October 2020.
Losen Records LOS 257-2