Announced by two singles released in November 2018 and December 2019 respectively, the first album by the relatively new Scandinavian trio Rymden, Reflections And Odysseys, was released on February 8 on the Jazzland label.
They’re nearly the same age, and all three musicians have had full and acclaimed careers. However, they’ve got a lot more to say yet. Bugge Wesseltoft, Dan Berglund and Magnus Öström are united in the Rymden trio, which was formed in 2017.
They share a point of connection having all been pioneers in the globalization of Scandinavian jazz. This collaboration, born from Bugge Wesseltoft’s initiative, marks the logical next step in their work: “I had a dream of a piano trio. Eventually, I asked Dan and Magnus. I knew Dan Berglund from having the opportunity to work with him alongside Henrik Schwarz. Ostensibly, I also knew their work with E.S.T. I wanted to include some kind of Scandinavian or European approach to music, so I asked them to join me and they agreed.”
The trio are animated by a shared spark: a desire, which took shape through their respective journeys, to always break into more and more innovative musical territory. Listeners will be most familiar with the Bugge Wesseltoft’s album New Conception of Jazz, which catapulted the Norwegian’s career; or, with the already legendary E.S.T trio, in which the Swedes Magnus Öström and Dan Berglund were led by the genius of the late Esbjörn Svensson, who died in 2008.
In relation to this association, a question inevitably arises concerning Rymden’s relationship to the work of the E.S.T trio, and of Bugge Wesseltoft’s specific role. Is it mere comparison? Inspiration? Is there a greater connection? Has Bugge Wesseltoft replaced Esbjörn Svensson? Magnus Öström sets the record straight: “I don’t see this trio as an homage, but as a new journey … I like trios. This is the first time I have played in such a formation since E.S.T. and I always wanted to be able to play in a trio again.” “I understand the reference or the comparison,” says Bugge Wesseltoft, “and it’s an honor. E.S.T. were fantastic! Esbjörn did all the music, though, and here we try to get everyone involved – there are quite a few differences.”
Check out Bugge Wesseltoft, Henrik Schwarz & Dan Berglund at London Jazz Festival on Qwest TV !
While the album is almost entirely acoustic, Bugge Wesseltoft remains true to himself by taking electronic routes on some tracks (“Råk-The Abyss”). Remember, too, that in addition to working on his own musical directions, the Norwegian pianist has spread this “electronic new jazz concept” by promoting many other artists beyond the gates of Oslo since 1996, thanks to his Jazzland label.
Scandinavian influences hover over the album, from folkloric rhythms and drums to elevated piano lines, all punctuated by marked bass impulses which, while providing spatial musical parameters, enlarge the listening experience. But what really counts throughout the eleven tracks of Reflections and Odysseys is the exercise in construction and in sound-based searching. Faithful to the concept of “Nordic groove,” and in a similar fashion to the extreme weather conditions of their native land, large expanses of a cold landscape are called to mind when we listen to the album, especially on the songs: “The Lugubrious Youth Of Lucky Luke,” the pure “Homegrown” or in “The Celestial Dog And The Funeral Ship.”
Taking full advantage of the space (“Rymden” in Swedish) engendered by the trio art form, it is with pride that Bugge Wesseltoft concludes: “I think we found a personal way to appreciate the piano trio, and I am very happy!”
Rymden, Reflections And Odysseys (Jazzland)