Tingvall trio try a little tenderness

A treat from Tingvall trio this week on ''Dance'' by this original-sounding band that newcomers to jazz can nonetheless turn easily to if beginning a journey to the heart of the piano trio tradition because they are a band who live very much in …

Published: 29 Sep 2020. Updated: 13 months.

A treat from Tingvall trio this week on ''Dance'' by this original-sounding band that newcomers to jazz can nonetheless turn easily to if beginning a journey to the heart of the piano trio tradition because they are a band who live very much in the here and now and yet whose roots go deep.

A great example of a trio that does not fall into the trap of being too ''classical-music sounding'' on 'Det Lilla' for example (Swedish I think for ''the Little One'' but don't shoot me if not) there is nothing dry about what is a tender ballad that begins with a romantic piano solo from Tingvall enhanced with knowing bass lines from Omar Rodriguez Calvo.

Hearing this Swedish-Cuban-German band once again is a reminder of how indebted we are, and may not even know that quite enough properly, to the Swedish jazz tradition. Jan Johansson, an influence on Kit Downes, the cult album Swedish Folk Modern, Bobo Stenson, the late Esbjörn Svensson, Tingvall, Daniel Karlsson, the list goes on but begins with Bengt Hallberg. Stan Getz was captivated by Hallberg's harnessing of folk on ‘Dear Old Stockholm’. It's a wonderful world ripe to discover and lose yourself in, full of reverie and sometimes poignancy.

For hardcore jazzers who sometimes cannot see the wood for the trees and can be a bit too quick to dismiss, the Tingvalls may not appeal because they are poppier and certainly more melodic than most but never simplistic. Trigger alert, the tune seems to come first, the improvisational impulse second rather than the other way round as to be fair some would maintain it should fall.

Tingvall himself in his soloing knows how to harness the specific characteristics of Swedish folk music to accent his melodic jazz style, which otherwise taps modern-mainstream flourishes, but you might not even spot the folk side to his compositional approach unless you are alerted to it and then start digging around: hint it is sometimes there in the gracenotes he deploys. That Swedish jazz tradition he belongs to surfaces on the more positive and yet bittersweet 'Flotten' where drummer Jürgen Spiegel is subtle on brushes, the tune blossoming into a lovely melody taken on by Tingvall with beautiful accompaniment by the consistently superb Calvo.

Dance on the Skip label, is released on Friday. Pictured from top left-to-right Jürgen Spiegel, Martin Tingvall, Omar Rodriguez Calvo. Photo: via Facebook.

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Great that there is limited activity again on the London jazz scene but things are far from ideal

Round midnight? Fat chance on the London jazz scene at the moment. Shocked is one reaction at the state of the scene at the moment although the situation has improved since Lockdown. Having said that the debatable policy of the government …

Published: 28 Sep 2020. Updated: 13 months.

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Round midnight? Fat chance on the London jazz scene at the moment.

Shocked is one reaction at the state of the scene at the moment although the situation has improved since Lockdown. Having said that the debatable policy of the government imposing a 10pm curfew on hospitality venues just last week threw a huge spanner in the works and ruined at a stroke the late night character of many jazz environments and reduced once again their ability to function as businesses. However, at least in London, a big crumb of comfort, live music isn't banned unlike from March until August.

So, there is some activity with some top clubs running gigs on Fridays and Saturdays (eg the Vortex), several days of the week (Ronnie Scott's, Jazz Cafe and the 606), a situation which is still quite new. The Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho remains closed with no dates at all on their website until late-November. There is however activity at the chain's Holborn venue planned and the venue is part of the London Jazz Festival this year. However not everything that that venue puts on is strictly relevant to jazz fans.

On the subject of the London Jazz Festival some major clubs (Ronnie's, the Vortex and again the Pizza Express Jazz Club) are not listed at all on the programme as venues. Looking at the festival website the venues listed as taking part are: Cadogan Hall, Crazy Coqs, 606 Club, Milton Court, Spice of Life, Jazz Cafe, Oliver's Jazz Bar, Riverhouse Barn Arts Centre, Kings Place, Green Note, Karamel, Ziggy's World Jazz Club, Hampstead Jazz Club, Barbican, Cafe Oto, Islington Assembly Hall, Omnibus Theatre, Shoreditch Town Hall, ClerkenwellARTSlab, PizzaExpress (Holborn), Duke Street Church, The Post Bar, Club Inégales, Art Cafe, Queen Charlotte Hall, Richmond, Artis Blackheath. That's still quite a substantial list. But note too the absence of any South Bank venues, in festivals gone by a significant scene for some of the biggest concerts.

Online gigs are a big part of the programme this year. When things return to normal will online gigs still feature or are they just a stop-gap? On that subject, real-time streams are far better from an ''event'' perspective than pre-recorded video presented as live only in the sense of ''scheduled live'' even if the latter often has better technical qualities given the time to finesse the visuals and sound. It is because the latter type can be just another video on YouTube even if created especially for a festival and lacks a sense of occasion. International stars and global icons of the music, a feature in the festival's glory years, are mostly missing this year. It just isn't possible at the moment because of travel restrictions for most, especially US artists who used to figure significantly at the festival, to travel. However, with the artist pool available it is an opportunity to enjoy more UK artists than might otherwise have been booked. And that is a good thing. Stephen Graham

Frith Street, London, pic. marlbank