The affable and sometimes extrovert music of Kjetil Andre Mulelid shatters the popular misconception that all contemporary Scandinavian piano trios are trapped in a glacial echo chamber.
While Mulelid (b. 1991 and a graduate of both Trondheim’s NTNU and Copenhagen’s highly influential Rytmisk Musikkonservatorium) is certainly comfortable with slow and free tempi and draws freely on a range of outside influences from the worlds of jazz, classical, folk and sacred musics, a predilection for US blues and gospel traditions gives his music a distinctly trans-Atlantic perspective.
Who Do You Love The Most? is the trio’s third Rune Grammofon release, and by and large there are no significant departures from an already winning formula. With numerous allusions to familiar musical genres and traditions, the trio offer enough fresh commentary to prevent the collection from resembling a patchwork of off-the-shelf styles. Eight of the 10 tracks are Mulelid originals, the brief Front Door is a free improvisation and the one cover is a piece by gone-but-not-forgotten American singer-songwriter Judee Sill.
Opening track Paul is surely a dedication to Messrs Bley and Motian, just the kind of elliptical free ballad they were so renowned for. The down-home groove and playful rhythmic stretches of The Road and Gospel speak to mid-70s Jarrett, while the beautiful Remembering has an asceticism redolent of compatriot Tord Gustavsen. Point Of View and For You I’ll Do Anything are searching post-Evans ballads that simply fizz with intelligent three-way dialogue, while the wonderfully laconic rendering of Sill’s Archetypal Man is as warm as it is generous, landing somewhere between old time gospel and township jazz.
Using the music of the past as a launchpad to the here and now, Mulelid’s terrifically accomplished trio are really finding their voice.
Paul; Endless; The Road; Remembering; Point Of View; The Archetypal Man; For You I’ll Do Anything; Imagine Your Front Door; Gospel; Morning Song (43.00)
Mulelid (p) with Bjørn Marius Hegge (b); Andreas Skår Winther (d). Halden, Norway, 21 & 22 June 2021.
Rune Grammofon RCD2229