Liv Andrea Hauge Trio: Ville Blomster

Norwegian piano trio takes inspiration from Kit Downes, Keith Jarrett and Bob Dylan, but is perhaps best when the influence is muted

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Much has been written about the democratisation of the music industry, advances in technology which allow almost anybody with a laptop and the right software to release music from the comfort of their bedroom. It’s not very often that a piano trio records an album in the leader’s living room though, but as improbable as that may sound it’s exactly what Norwegian pianist Liv Andrea Hauge did with the group’s 2022 debut Live From St. Hanshaugen.

The trio had scarcely been together for a week and the five tracks were suitably intimate and relaxed, but with Ville Blomster (“Wild Flowers”) the trio beat a more conventional path into the studio. Dag Erik Johansen’s sympathetic recording retains a sense of immediacy, but with 12 months of touring and rehearsal behind them the songs have a little more polish and ambition. All eight pieces are Hauge originals save for Du Og Jeg, Baby (“You And Me, Baby”), which is a free improvisation, the trio striking a pleasing mid-Atlantic balance of influences.

Gullregn (“Golden Rain”) digs into the two-handed virtuosity and rhythmic poise of Mehldau, while Vår (“Spring”) and Ødemarka (“Wasteland”) explore the more open landscapes of Tord Gustavsen’s trio. Istid distils the crystalline essence of mid-70s Jarrett into seven wonderful minutes, and Hauge’s gripping solo on Asta (“Stand”) draws from a similar well.

Yet my favourite pieces are perhaps those where the trio’s influences are less clear. The blissful lyricism of Det Vokser Ville Blomster På Månen (“Wild Flowers Grow On The Moon”) is hard to beat, Fri Flyt (“Free Flow”) takes all manner of unexpected rhythmic twists, and the freely improvised piece is a bundle of kinetic unpredictability.

With charm and creativity aplenty, Hauge’s trio surely has a bright future ahead.


Discography
Det Vokser Ville Blomster På Månen; Gullregn; Vår; Asta; Fri Flyt; Du Og Jeg, Baby; Istid; Ødermarka (34.46)
Hauge (p); Georgia Wartel Collins (b); August Glännestrand (d). Halden, Norway, May 2023.
Hubro Music CD2659 & LP3659