Piec'Art is usually a mainstream jazz venue but evey once in a while there's a space for something more adventorous too. I have to admit that this band was completely anonymous for me and I came by this concert completely unprepared, almost by accident, not knowing really what to expect. Couple of listens to some samples from myspace convinced me enough to come and I'm really glad I did.
Trabant trio (great name really) is a sax trio wchich from the beginning earns them my trust as this is an instrumental setting I really like, and even when played in a mainstream way it gives a sense of freedom and flexibility that really good jazz needs (just listen to Sonny Rollins trios to hear what I mean, some amazing music there). Secondly on their MySpace you can find a cover song by PJ Harvey and in the descripion of the band you'll find named other influences like The Band or Led Zeppelin. Perception of jazz as an exclusively elite and extremely demanding music is hurting it big time. And I love it when young jazz musicians admit willingly that they like popular music and it influenced they way they play jazz. The Thing turn punk outside out, Ken Vandermark after hours sings along to the sax solos of James Browns funky tunes. If you are my age you probably were listening to Nirvana. Trying to disconnect jazz from popular music is artificial and pretentious. But let me get back to the concert as this monologue is getting too long...
The music is charmingly melodic, the themes are downright catchy, the clear pulse keeps the foot (well, at least my foot) tapping. And that's not only the covers I'm talking about but the originals proposed by the band share the some song-like quality. Among the covers there's a tastefull rendition of Dylan's "The Times Are A-Changin'", riff-rocking "Ocean" by the Led Zeppelin, moody, dark "Talk to you" by PJ Harvey, dreamy and enchanting "Sleeping Lessons" by The Shins and very appealing "Unfaithful Servants" by The Band. Quite a ground to cover (so to speak) and good example of how versatile this trio is.
Svein Magnus Furu posesses a very beautifull tone on tenor, fragile and gentle in slower tunes, soulful and passionate when the grooves is on, very Jimmy Giuffre-sque on clarinet. His soloing is very melodic, phrasing reminds you of a classical jazz tunes but the melodics inspired by the tunes (including the originals) are less juzz inclined, much more modern. But that doesn't mean he can occasionaly hit a high, screaming note or polyphonic whisper (nice solo with a delay effect). Adrian Myhr on the bass keeps the harmony simple but not banal, his soloing is sensible, his touch is very light, very melodic. Audun Lunnan Hjort is my personal hero of the evening, his playing is infectiously energetic, he stirrs the things up, he times the accents perfectly, he both follows and pushes the solo narration, and he adds this little bit of crazy ingredient. While being very attentive to the melodic aspect of the drums, he never forgets to keep the rhythm going.
This band's performance is built on melodies but that doesn't mean the are afraid of letting it loose every once in a while, and though those freer passages are rare, the possibility of them happening, the open-mindset keeps the audience on their toes. The only band that can play rock tunes like that I can think of is Jewels & Binoculars (a trio led by Michael Moore which plays exclusively Bob Dylan's songs). Those guys are still pretty young, their playing is fresh, energetic and also very accessible, so, even if their names tell you nothing, be sure to watch them play if they have a gig nearby. I'm really glad I did and I'm waiting impatiently now to hear their first cd (coming later this year).
In the meantime you can check their myspace page.
Svein Magnus Furu - tenor saxophone, clarinet
Adrien Myhr - double bass
Audun Lunnnan Hjort - drums
Piec'ART. Krakow. 12.05.