Having built up loyal audiences, perhaps most notably in Germany and Japan, the Helge Lien Trio is busy supporting their applauded 2011 album ‘Natsukashii’.
Helge Lien, who in addition to his own trio project performs with other Norwegian acts like Silje Nergaard, has developed his very own unmistakable style of trio playing with band colleagues Frode Berg (bass) and Knut Aalefjær (drums & percussion). With instinctive sureness, the musicians have developed their own take on chamber jazz that stands out through its harmonically complex tone colors. Building on Bill Evans’ lyrical power and the exhilaratingly melancholic playing of Esbjörn Svensson, Lien, in constant dialogue with Berg & Aalefjær, creates distinct moods on ‘Natsukashii’ – moods that he presents with ease.
Helge Lien Trio’s latest outing is 2011’s Natsukashii. Wrote allaboutjazz.com’s John Kelman in his review: - With all ten compositions coming from Lien's increasingly assured pen, the set covers a lot of emotional territory. Despite drummer Knut Aalefjær's light, brush-driven kit work, "Afrikapolka" dances with the joy of African Highlife, while "Hymne" is, at least initially, more melancholic in complexion. Lien starts alone, pensively building to its singable theme, but supporting himself with an ever-shifting yet economically chosen harmonic underpinning, until the rest of the trio enters with an ambling, waltz-time swing, referencing seminal influence Bill Evans with its unforced three-way interplay. Meanwhile, "E" may well refer to Svensson, its contrapuntal complexities—and Lien's overt virtuosity in one of his most outgoing solos of the set—clearly hinting at the Swede's unmistakable touchstones. Aalefjær's more powerful stick work drives the two-minute miniature, "Umbigada," with the same kind of freethinking that Berg demonstrates at the foundation of its quirky construction, while "Small No Need" is, compositionally, much sketchier, Berg's a capella intro leading to an hypnotic, Dave Holland-like groove, as Lien constructs a solo from the ground up, secure in the knowledge that no matter where he goes, Berg and Aalefjær will be there, pushing and pulling the pliant music in new and oftentimes unexpected directions.sd
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