I’ve come to the realization that I like my jazz on the soft side. I’m not talking about lite jazz or soft jazz or any of that twinkly keyboard stuff, nor am I just thinking of ballads. I’m talking about quiet rather than soft, music that’s full of space so you can change perspectives on the performance. I want to spend time with teeny tiny details rather than big, chugging orchestral machines. This is a realization that arrived alongside of Finding Seagulls from Little North.
This Little North album came out of nowhere. Someone just sent it to me, and then weeks later sent a follow-up as to what I thought. I couldn’t find this album anywhere in the review pile; they sent another. It sat unopened for nearly a week, just so much going on around here lately, and when I finally got around to listening to it I was quickly enthralled with the quiet and the space.
Little North sounded familiar. Not so much the individual components of this jazz piano trio, pianist Benjamin Jacobsen, bassist Martin Rasmussen and drummer Lasse Jacobsen, but in the overall tone. The quiet, the beauty that’s equally offset by a measure of emptiness…could this be Scandinavian?
Indeed, Little North is from Denmark, and before you accuse me of stereotyping Scandinavian music as bleak I’ll have you know that the liner notes of Finding Seagulls uses the word melancholic in the first sentence. (Later, gloomy and minimalist are employed, so it’s not just me.) But that’s why I’m drawn to this music, all those sublime 2L Recordings releases from Norway, Lars Jakob Rudjord and Ingvild Koksvik, and possibly an emerging fascination with Grieg and Sibelius. I love this sound, this mixture of emotions and sometimes the deliberate absence of any emotion at all.
Plus, this pressing is absolutely superb. The depth of the decay bouncing through those cavernous expanses between musicians is astonishing. The original compositions use appealing and accessible melodies to present you with fascinating and complex ideas, and you feel like you’re having your cake and eating it, too. It’s a gorgeous, intriguing album, and now I need to investigate Little North further.