Piano trios come in all shapes and forms. The Swiss in recent years seemed to have taken over the genre not that that trend was entirely a good thing for reasons of sheer blandness apart from a few notable exceptions. One band that has not reached peak-bland and are not even Swiss, the Helge Lien trio from Norway display a certain zen and manage to project both bags of emotional resource and a sublime sense of group interplay that moves the genre on to click into a new cycle. While, with a broad sweep, they may recall EST who changed the face of the format for ever in the 1990s and 2000s the Lien trio nevertheless take their improvisational road trips to new places entirely and sound quite different in some ways, although the main point of comparison on Guzuguzu, the title of their latest album, a Japanese onomatopoeic term for ‘moving slowly’, is the way Frode Berg on bass like Dan Berglund formerly with EST and now with the Jan Lundgren quartet manages to layer in cavernously deep reservoirs of resonance to provide that invisible magic that lifts everything to levels of perceptible insight and serenity. Per Oddvar Johansen on drums has never played better. Not everything soars, so I have deducted a couple of stars in the rating above, however ‘Jasmine’ is a folksy wonder where less is infinitely more. CD buyers are entitled to a download link for a bonus track which is worth bearing in mind especially as somehow Guzuguzu leaves you wanting more in a good way although it is a frustrating listen given how opaque some of the improvisational expeditions become. My feeling is that the Lien trio still haven’t quite delivered their best work and yet that’s a huge cause for optimism as the best may well be, guessing wildly but with a degree of confidence, yet to come. 

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