Venue: Black Gate Club at the Galway Jazz Festival (Eire)
Date: October 5th, 2017
Review by Fiona Mactaggart
The subdued lighting of the basement venue is well suited to this thoughtful and measured set, the small space only intensifying the calming effect of the delicate and beautiful melodies traced by pianist Tuomas A Turunen over a web spun by drummer and band leader, Emil Brandqvist.
This emerging young Nordic trio thus presents an exquisite and cinematic set, Brandqvist’s compositions bringing a breath of Swedish fresh air to the Galway Jazz Festival. Brandqvist has previously stated he is often inspired by the natural world and certainly many of tonight’s pieces reflect this – ‘Forrest’ and ‘The last polar bear’, for example. It comes as no surprise to learn that Brandqvist also composes film music, such are the cinematic, orchestral and sensitive, affectual qualities.
However the trio’s musicianship is also impressive. Brandqvist chooses to rarely demonstrate the full extent of his impressive drums chops, instead his ultra-sensitive communication with band members, his low-ego, light yet precise command of the trio and frequent use of the slightest of mood-enhancing brush strokes to the snare, is evident throughout. Meanwhile France-based Turunen, winner of the 2010 Montreux Jazz festival competition Jury Prize, matches Brandqvist in delicacy and sensitivity of touch, whilst cheerful and focused double bassist Max Thornberg shows his western classical background and at times adds depth to the sound with his vocalizations.
With three CDs under their belt so far – much of tonight’s bill is taken from their penultimate 2015 release by SKIP, Seascapes – the band is currently taking their slightly restrained, rather lovely music on tour, through Europe to South Korea. Last year the trio were nominated for the ECHO Jazz Award: one gets the impression that isn’t the last we shall be hearing of this talented crew.