The challenge with any acoustic jazz piano trio is to be fresh and that bit different. Last year’s Nikolaj Hess tantalising release Trio (the pianist joined by bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen) found a new path and achieved a certain impact via the New Melodic and a tunnelling back to Ellingtonia.
The Dane navigates choppier and darker waters on Spacelab. With him are AC, bassist Anders Christensen (Dark Eyes), and Hess’ own brother, theatre and film composer drummer Mikkel. Their second album together following on from their lively organ-soaked debut The Champ five years ago, mood and spatial awareness are king and raw emotion prevails on an album of original melancholic material located within the darker end of the New Melodic, with the classical music of the Romantic composers a backdrop on a piece such as ‘New & Gone’. But there’s a tautness too (eg ‘Super 8’) and the glacial ‘Altona’ darkens the mood perceptibly. Let’s hope it won’t be five years before the next chapter in this intriguing trio’s life unfolds. SG