Trolls, after all, are mythical creatures from Nordic mythology, and Nordic mythology of pre-Christian times has been a prominent theme among Scandinavian extreme metal bands. One of Finland's best-known metal bands, in fact, is named Finntroll. But Hello Troll has nothing to do with metal. The focus of Norwegian pianist Helge Lien is straight-ahead post-bop jazz, and on Hello Troll, he embraces the time-honored acoustic piano trio format (Frode Berg is on upright bass, Knut Aalefaer on drums). Over the years, that format has been successful for a wide variety of acoustic jazz pianists ranging from Erroll Garner to Cecil Taylor to Red Garland; it also works well for Lien, who favors a clean-sounding post-bop pianism along the lines of Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Ahmad Jamal.
Helge Lien Trio: Natsukashii So, what do you do when you've won, amongst other accolades, the 2008 DnBNor Musicians Award and a Norwegian Grammy Award for Best Jazz Album of 2009? Well, if you're Helge Lien and the album is Hello Troll (Ozella, 2008), you just keep on keepin' on—in this fine pianist's case, continuing to hone the trio that's been his primary focus since What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life (Curling Legs, 2001). With the unfortunate dissolution of Esbjorn Svensson, following the pianist Esbjorn Svensson's tragic death in 2008, there's a bit of a gaping hole in the realm of young European piano trios achieving greater international acclaim.
To The Little Radio, which features interpretations of standards, and Live, which is based mostly on Lien originals, both present the trio on strong form. The 11 non-original pieces explored on this disc were recorded in Oslo last January, and showcase the trio's collective approach to standards. On the first piece, Lasse Färnlöf's "Grandfather's Waltz," Lien's harmonies reference Bill Evans' version. Jerome Kern's "Look For The Silver Lining" and Billy Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge" foreground the trio's by now intuitive interplay and, though minimalist, get deep into the essence of the melodies.
Verve 60th Anniversary Rare Albums SHM-CD Reissue Series. Reissue with SHM-CD format. Two different sides of Verve Records in the 50s – one modern, one a bit more traditional – and both represented in live material from the Newport Jazz Festival in 1957! Side one features a stunning live performance from pianist Teddy Wilson – working in a tight trio with Milt Hinton on bass and Spec Powell on drums – and really blowing away any conceptions we might have had about Wilson being aging or flowery at the time. Instead, he's got a sharp edge and command of the keys that's amazing – and which almost seems to have a bit more bite than usual in this concert setting.
The ultimate blindfold test, this disc contains recorded performances of Beethoven's "Archduke" Piano Trio as well as his Variations on "Ich bin der Schneider Kakadu," but nowhere does it say who the performers are. This is, of course, unacceptable. While it is acceptable to buy a recording of a performance, it is unacceptable not to attribute the performers.