Release: 19th of February 2021 (April Records)
Benjamin Nørholm Jacobsen piano | Lasse Jacobsen drums | Martin Brunbjerg Rasmussen bass
There’s of course a long and well-documented lineage of Scandinavian music which brings together melancholic Nordic soundscapes with the deep tradition of jazz.
Little North, a young piano trio out of Denmark, is by no means an exception to this, but their sophomore album Finding Seagulls sees them writing the next chapter of this rich tradition.
Already highly-acclaimed in their home country of Denmark, the group spent their formative years playing and composing together, developing a chemistry and intuition which belies their youth.
Moving seamlessly between composition and improvisation, their poetic ‘melody-first’ writing often masks a deep complexity which bubbles just below the surface.
“Finding Seagulls, is a metaphor for the search for land in an ocean of endless possibilities. When a seagull appears on the open sea, you know land is nearby. As a trio we are constantly in search of new sounds and stories. This album is a representation of that search”
Little North brings together the warmth of American jazz with the cold, minimalist sounds of the North, creating that Nordic sound loved by so many: atmospheric, cinematic, captivating… somehow gloomy and joyful at the same time.
Liner notes [written by Niels Christian Cederberg Journalist and host at DR P8 JAZZ, Danish Broadcasting Corporation]
You’ve just flipped this album. Maybe you are intrigued by the abstract painting on the front cover, which leaves you thinking about the abstract nature of your own mind. Let me give you some thoughts about the music you are about to listen to.
I set foot on a mild but rainy November afternoon with my ears covered in the sounds of this album. I shrugged my body in my too-thin-to-wear-in-autumn jacket and headed along the grayish surroundings on the borders between new and old Copenhagen. Colors were faded and the trees had let go of the last signs of warmer weather. Along my path I sensed the autumn colors spread across scarred pavements. Black, brown, red, yellow and all ranges of fading greens.
The music guided my footsteps. Pushing my inner rhythm to walk a certain pace and sense my surroundings in a certain way. Like this was meant to score my commuting feet at this moment in everyday life.
The sound in my ears put me in a sense of childhood. The feeling of being back in my old little town in rural Denmark, where things and times were simpler. Where discoveries in their essence were small but felt greatly important and had a big impact on a young soul.
The simple but adventurous drum patterns and the subtle bass grooves all reminded me of the things I’d left behind growing up throwing me into a state of reflections and melancholia. Fortunately, I was not alone. It felt like I was carried along with a friend’s warm hand in mine. Little North had my back. I was soothed by the lushness of minor and major piano chords giving meaning and hope to the same state of mind. Pointing the arrow towards brighter light amidst acknowledging the compromises and hardship in life that makes up the narrow path we all walk along as we try to live meaningful lives.
In past years I’ve come to know a great deal of young talented musicians on the danish scene, who are deeply aware and rooted in the traditions of jazz music, but even more rooted in their Scandinavian heritage. Bridging gaps between the profound nature and warmth of American jazz and the colder subtle sounds of the north. Improvising on a vast array of musical borders between those two worlds.
Little North is by no means any exception to this. Finely crafted melodic and poetic tunes with the same gloomy feel of something deeply rooted in their very existence. At the same time a warmth is present in the music on this album. Picking carefully from the complex tradition of jazz music and paring this with minimalistic and simple structures to unfold something uniquely Nordic.
The roots of Scandinavian everyday lives are present in the music you hear. There is a sense of roots music in this. The feeling of melancholia and longing honed through generations of hardship and challenging conditions facing the common people who helped lay the foundation of the Scandinavian countries. A reflection of lived lives where struggle in long dark winters go hand in hand with the joy and open arms on the endless summer nights of the region.
Maybe even without knowing where this came from, the musicians can’t help but express those feelings through their instruments simply because this is an evolutionary part of their existence in these parts of the world. Of course, not a scientifically proven point, nevertheless this is how I perceive the music.
One of the great tales of the north is the tale of the fearless seafarers who early in history set sail in small wooden boats whisking along waters and shorelines of different origin. Relying on nature to bring them safely on a journey of new discoveries and opportunities. Giving northern people a pragmatic but overwhelming feeling of being a small part of a big and vast world with open end possibilities. The magic spell of the sea still casts its wake on the lives of the Scandinavian people of the north.
Which leads me to the question of where to find those seagulls?
You find them at the seaside. Gliding along with calm and grace on the winds of time. Living their lives on the borders of land and sea in a merciless environment. A spectacle of survival pointing their beaks towards unknown frontiers fuelling our inner dreams and guiding our imagination. Reminding us to let our minds wander away from the daily duress and ignite our curiosity to look beyond what we can see.
Truly a remarkable bird.
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