Monday, January 16, 2012

Jesper Zeuthen Trio

Jesper Zeuthen Trio
Jesper Zeuthen (sax)
Adam Pultz Melbye (bass)
Thomas Praestegaard (drums)

Jesper Zeuthen has been an enigmatic presence on the Danish and European jazz scene for over four decades. I first discovered him on a couple of Jakob Bro albums from a few years ago. Exerting a free jazz style that would remind you of Orenette Coleman or mid period John Coltrane, Zeuthen still manages to create his own unique vision and language that is captivating and inspiring. In 2009, Zeuthen began to focus on a new trio which has since garned quite a bit of well deserved recognition of the last few years.

"Andedans" starts our journey through the group's self-titled debut (Jesper Zeuthen Trio). It's a gradual movement and as the notes unfold you realize this will be not only be an exotic free flowing trip; it will also be one with a lot of spirituality. The more philosophical aspect of the music could be derived from Zeuthen's long and illustrious career working in various European forms. It makes for an exciting experience with his new trio.


"Piru Tulee" feels like an old children's rhyme gone spiralling down a dark hole and then picked up by Albert Ayler. Great stuff. Playful, exquisitely improvised and highly effective. "Vilden Sky" opens with some wonderful improvised strumming from Melbye and as Zeuthen and Praestegaard join in the piece becomes an interesting staccato ballad of sorts. Lots of stop/starts and a few blistering notes from Zeuthen but in all an emotional piece underneath some chaos.

Live (Blackout Music; 2011), recorded after almost a year of touring Europe begins almost like Mats Gustafson's The Thing. It's a slow, calm opening of a few bars and a gradual introduction to each members style and then the trio let loose on adventure. The trio seem more at ease with each other after two years of being together. "Husene Pa Volden" and "Sin Skaeve Gang" both are solid laid back pieces that set a rich more mature tone for the evening.


Zeuthen seems more focused on structure here but is definitely not afraid to let the group fly when it has to. And fly they do on "Lad Som Ingenting." Zeuthen runs up and down the scales with fiery abandon. Both Praestegaard and Melbye are in free flowing form that matches note for every chaotic note. Melbye has some terrific, intense, swirling passages about five minutes in that you really start to gravitate to.

The trio maintain a nice balance between fiery improvisation and measured notation. The closing number "Marie Pa Baenken" illustrates this nicely. Zeuthen delivers some beautiful notes through what essentially feels like a classical chamber piece. It's dark and emotive but closes out the evening performance nicely and the audience repays the group in kind.

Unlike some larger European players over the decades (Surman, Przybielski, Brotzmann, et al) Jesper Zeuthen has quietly made his mark throughout Europe. But I hope that this current line up is something that he sticks with. They have grown leaps and bounds in just a few years and I think the next record will be quite astounding. Here's to good listening my friends...you should really check out both albums from the Jesper Zeuthen Trio.

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