Swedish pianist Daniel Karlsson brought his trio to the Bristol Beacon foyer on Sunday in the first of a short but typically enticing series of gigs courtesy of Ian Storrer under his ‘Jazzata’ banner (more details of what’s coming up here).
The trio, Karlsson with Christian Spering on bass and Fredrik Rundqvist on drums, had the easy familiarity and collective spontaneity of long standing partners. Karlsson settled at the piano, sprinkled a few stabbed phrases and clusters; what was coming? a Monk tune? something funky? A quiet shuffling clatter from Rundqvist’s drums, locked with an ascending bass figure and the jigsaw resolved to an attractive cycling riff. After an open, atmospheric interlude, the groove kicked in and Karlsson let fly with dazzling, looping runs and layers of chords, scattering ear tweaking melodic motifs amongst them.
Karlsson and the band stand in a rich tradition of piano trios they’ve digested and made their own. It’s a fluid, melodically and rhythmically rich sound. The opener Climbing The Ladder, had the flow and spaciousness of Ahmed Jamal at times and Jarrett was an easy reference point for some of Karlsson’s long lines. The rocky vamp of Rule of Thumb took them into different territory, an insistent left hand figure sustaining the momentum. In another moody interlude, Karlsson used electronics triggered by the piano to create textures and expand the sounds. By the time the vamp reasserted itself the piece had the feel of an expansive suite. Moderato was an affecting ballad, showcasing Spering’s glowing sound and melodic sense on bass. An absorbing piano intro morphed into a funky groover, more electronics from Karlsson decorating a simiple theme. Then Rundqvist progressively wound the tempo up at the end until they dissolved into a melee of white noise to give it an extra twist. The second set saw them thoroughly relaxed and producing more drama, reflective passages and swirling melodic lyricism as well as rocking out on thumping riffs.
No surprise then, that there were plenty of shouts for more by the end. They may not be household names in UK, but Ian Storrer knows a good thing when he hears it. The Daniel Karlsson Trio are a top drawer unit.