Daniel Herskedal Trio
(Kings Place. 18 November. Live review by Jon Turney)
The Norwegian Daniel Herskedal may be the most Nordic of all the fine players Scandinavian jazz has brought us in recent decades. The sound of his two instruments – his bass trumpet somehow inherently elegiac, his tuba punchier but still deeply sonorous – have much do with it. A sensibility attuned to landscapes – and seascapes – comes in too.
But this show and last year’s trio album Harbour indicate that his music is broader than the stereotype allows. Yes, his mostly mid-tempo, lyrical tunes often sound like candidates for introducing Scandi-noir TV dramas yet to be made. But the eastern inflection and rhythmic energy of Dancing Dhow Deckhands and titles like The Beaches of Lesbos betoken a broader musical and cultural outlook.
Joining him in these wider explorations are fellow Norwegians pianist Eyolf Dale and comparative veteran Andreas Helge Norbakken on percussion, and their long association has seen them grow into a superbly integrated trio. Dale shares the horn player’s inclinations toward wistful, often bittersweet melodic invention, and Norbakken is that rare musician, a lyrical percussionist.
Their two sets at this sold out gig in Kings Place were a captivating display of modern instrumental music, the improvising as thoughtful and considered as the compositions. The trio now have an extensive repertoire but drew most heavily on the more recent pieces from Harbour. As ever, the instrumentation might sound limited, but the range of sounds the leader can conjure from his horns, and especially his command of the tuba, provide ample variety. One or two old favourites, from releases that originally featured additional instrumentation, sounded quite as satisfying in trio renditions. And the oldest of all, Slow Eastbound Train, toward the end of the second set, retains its feeling that, of all the train songs, this one goes with crossing a country seen in widescreen, an icy one perhaps, and with a certain grandeur. Herskedal’s work is a beautifully distinctive corner of the jazz soundscape, one always worth visiting again.