Christian Jormin Trio: See The Unseen

While Scandi-cool lurks, this Norwegian piano trio mainly burns in the intense Wasilewski manner, even recalling McCoy Tyner

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Better known as a drummer, and certainly less well known than his bass playing brother, Christian Jormin (b. 1962) has enjoyed a long and varied career in music. He toured the world as a member of Swedish folk-rock group Den Fule but had a parallel career in jazz and improvised music.

His jazz work included an early recording with Bobo Stenson (Nordic Light, 1984), an appearance with brother Anders on Mats Gustafsson’s Ornette inspired Opus Apus (1996), and in more recent times a spot as both drummer and pianist in Eva Kruse’s post-[em] quintet.

Leaving aside some hard to find CD-Rs issued in Sweden by bFlat Records, this is Jormin’s first outing at the head of a piano trio since 2004’s Sol Salutis. Recorded over a couple of days at the Sjöströmsalen Concert Hall in mid-pandemic Gothenburg, the trio were clearly ready for some close musical communion.

Bergström has been collaborating with Jormin for many years, and their close rapport is a given. Newcomer Adam Ross brings just the right amount of steel and grit, and as he disrupts the meter and crashes through the cymbals on opening track Mola Mola the trio’s slightly dangerous but well-balanced chemistry is instantly apparent.

As a pianist Jormin is as open to post-modal jazz from the US as he is to European classicism. Although there’s a thin dusting of Scandi-cool scattered across each of the 10 original pieces, the music burns with an intensity closer in temperament to Marcin Wasilewski’s great trio.The title track exemplifies the approach, tight forms and unions counterbalanced by free-flowing passages of linear improvisation.

The delicate Lätta, Sväva, Inåt could easily have developed into a lustrous post-impressionist étude, but the trio instead peaks in a tumultuous cascade of Tyner-esque joy. The twists of Omsorg recall Dansere era Stenson, and it is only really Oceanos that remains constrained by conventional ballad forms. The set closes all too quickly with the yearning In A Distance.

Jormin seems to be looking ahead towards the promise of post-Covid restoration. Whatever the near future might hold, let’s hope that this terrific trio makes a swift return. 

Discography
Mola Mola; See The Unseen; Io; Sibilance; Lätta, Sväva, Inåt; Swan Of Snow; Pantanal; Oceanos; Omsorg; In A Distance (58.26)
Jormin (p); Magnus Bergström (b); Adam Ross (d). 22 & 23 July 2020, Gothenburg.
Losen Records LOS259-2