Little North, Wide Open Review
by Icrom Bigrad
Little North is the name of a contemporary Danish piano trio that has been steadily creating its own sound through its past five albums. As of late, that sound has been gaining international attention, including in the US. Little North comprises Benjamin Norholm-Jacobsen – on piano, Martin Brunbjerg Rasmussen – on bass, and Lasse Jacobsen – on drums. Together the trio builds on the foundational sound of Swedish pianists Jan Johansson, Esbjorn Svensson, Danish bassist Niels Henning Orsted-Pedersen, Danish guitarist Jakob Bro and Scottish pianist Fergus McCreadie. Little North is now releasing their fifth album, Wide Open, on which they continue their ECM-styled jazz aesthetic.
“Floating” has a robust bassline from Rasmussen that the two Jacobsens (no relations) build over. The theme is atmospheric and lyrically played by Benjamin. Lasse’s drum colors use all elements of the kit and match the percussive hits on the piano by Benjamin. The piano solo is a journey through voicings that move to form tensions and release and depend on space and resonance as much as the intervals. One can easily imagine the Danish landscapes in their music as it unfolds. Their sound is identifiably Scandinavian in its importance of leaving space, developing harmonic colors, layering textures, and subdued resonances.
“Lullaby For A Day Fly” brings a broader element of European jazz influences with a more conventional form and melody. The melody is lyrical and represents a clear European jazz perspective. Brunbjerg’s bass solo is featured. His tone is warm, percussive, and singing. Benjamin’s piano solo flows with pastel colorations, delicate single lines, dynamics, and careful listening.
Wide Open is Little North solidifying their European jazz approach with their clear Scandinavian hues to group improvisation and the American jazz heritage. If you are already aware of Little North, Wide Open is a must-have. However, if not, and you are a fan of the ECM style of European jazz, Wide Open will be a fresh find for your collection.