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The two solo albums of Norwegian, Trondheim-based Pianist Espen Berg – «Noctilucent» and «Acres of Blue» (both on Atterklang, 2012 and 2014) introduced him as a mature musician with a commanding voice of his own. These albums stressed his unique melodic abstraction and his intricate lyrical compositions.

«Mønster» (pattern in Norwegian) suggests another side of Berg art, leading a trio of young musicians – double bass player Bárður Reinert Poulsen and drummer Simon Olderskog Albertsen, both former students at the acclaimed Trondheim NTNU university, where Berg teaches as an associate professor at the department of music. The trio began working on 2014 and recorded its its debut album on November of that year in Copenhagen, except one piece recorded live at the Dokkhuset club in Trondheim (the album was released earlier this year on the Japanese Blue Gleam label).

The trio already sound like a working group and its tight, communicative interplay serves brilliantly Berg strong melodies. Though working in one of the most popular formats in jazz legacy Berg manages to suggest an independent, highly personal aesthetics that does not sound as indebted to the swinging or bluesy American jazz, the more abstract European jazz or the chilly-lyrical sound of the Nordic school, so identified with ECM label.

The flowing dynamics of the trio offer a clever, intricate abstraction of the melodic themes and rhythmic games that highlight the driving force of both Poulsen and Albertsen, all are wrapped in emotional intensity and elegant delivery. Wise compositions like «Attack of the Tones», the ballad «Left at the Right Moment» or the playful «Folkejohnny» emphasize the brilliant aesthetics of this trio, balancing between improvised, often dramatic abstraction of the theme through shifting dynamics and the poetic delivery of its appealing themes.

If there is justice in the musical world the EBT (Espen Berg Trio) deserves a similar popular recognition that EST (Esbjörn Svensson Trio) has won in the last decade.

Eyal Hareuveni  

Espen Berg (p); Bárður Reinert Poulsen (B); Simon Olderskog Albertsen (dr)

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