Espen Eriksen Trio with Andy Sheppard: Perfectly Unhappy (Rune Grammofon/Southbound)

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Indian Summer
Espen Eriksen Trio with Andy Sheppard: Perfectly Unhappy (Rune Grammofon/Southbound)

For those who remember when Andy Sheppard appeared – alongside Courtney Pine, Ronny Jordan, Loose Tubes, Django Bates and others – as one of the new wave of British jazz musicians in the Eighties it will doubtless come as a surprise that the young man is now 61 with a dozen or so albums under his own name and many, many more with the likes of Carla Bley, the late John Martyn, George Russell and fellow ECM artists such as pianist/writer Ketil Bjornstad and Eivind Aarset.

Here he joins the trio lead by Norwegian pianist Espen Eriksen on the interesting Rune Grammofon label.

The compositions are all by Eriksen and many have that Scandinavian sense of space and melancholy familiar from the ECM catalogue, but the music also aims more towards warmth and a kind of optimism in the melodies. And sometimes it even eases towards a sophisticated MOR quality, which makes for an experience more pleasant than demanding as so much jazz from this region can be.

The title of the album hints at that balance.

The piece 1974 is a lovely, reflective ballad which could have been recorded at any time from 1956 onward, Indian Summer is one of those ballads which might have slipped from the closing credits on a bitter-sweet romance and Naked Trees is a 2am piece when the club is almost empty and the band have just found the sound to convey the mood of accepting ennui and the delight in each other's reflective playing.

The final four-minute piece Home is where they come to rest in comfort.

Certainly not a groundbreaking album by any measure but the sound of musicians who have found a mutual understanding in slow ballads and thoughtfulness.

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