CD Review: Östergren Strömkvist trio, Liam’s Labyrinth

Written by | CD Reviews, News, Reviews

On the 29th of May, the Östergren Strömkvist Trio released their debut album “Liam’s Labyrinth”. The album contains new original material and although “Liam’s Labyrinth” maybe the trios debut album, these are well credited Swedish professionals that make up the Östergren Strömkvist Trio who have been around on the Swedish scene for many years.

The two founders of the trio Martin Östergren (piano) and Dan Strömkvist (drums) have spent over 25 years working as sidemen and felt now is the time to release an album of their own material. The two stated in their press release “the desire to write and play dynamic, instrumental and improvised music in one’s own group has grown stronger over the years.”

Choosing the classic Jazz Piano Trio format The twelve tracks were recorded under the motto “One day, one room, one album” in the studio Rixmixningsverket in Skeppsholmen, Stockholm. The press release states that the music can be described as both rhythmic and atmospheric jazz with Nordic sounds mixed with the American jazz tradition. I would agree with this. There is, without doubt, the pastoral feeling of the Nordic landscape that is typical of the region and has found its way into Nordic music from composers ranging from Grieg and Sibelius to Jan Garbarek

If your looking for a fast swinging album this is not the recording for you. The music is meditative yet you will find several tracks that verge on the Avant-garde invoking some highly interesting soundscapes.

The album was recorded as eluded to above in one day in December 2019 with no addition overdubs and many of the tracks being first takes. You can hear this spontaneity in the performances and what struck me immediately was the tightness of the ensemble. This is not your typical jazz blowing session with a standard head in, solos, head out format. This album is about the ensemble and three musicians truly work together as one instrument here.

Pianist Martin Östergren stated “Just the way we wanted it. It is an extremely fun and liberating approach that is based on responsiveness and music-making in the moment. We live in a time when you can digitally patch, fix and adjust to perfection but it can be at the expense of the feeling of presence and interaction. Some of the songs got a little different character then and there when one of us played something that triggered the others to hook on to. To us, that’s exactly what jazz is all about: responsiveness and quick reflexes.”

This is a beautiful album on all fronts. The material is strong, the running order holds the listeners’ attention and the performances are superb. Top this off with the outstanding recording quality and you have a truly beautiful album. I have to admit I revelled in the clarity of sound of the Fazioli grand piano.

This is an album that will appeal to a wide range of music lovers and is highly recommended.

Track Listing:
1. August Förster | 2. Liam’s Labyrinth | 3. Vidde | 4. Akkajaure | 5. The Watchmaker | 6. Ibra’s Waltz | 7. More Coffee | 8. Remembering J&T | 9. Hesitation no 4 | 10. Timbo’s Dream | 11. The Windmill | 12. To a Place Far Away

Martin Östergren (piano) | Dan Strömkvist (drums) | Josef Kallerdahl (Bass)

Release Date: 29 May 2020
Format: CD | Digital
Label: Self Release

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Last modified: June 3, 2020