'Vestbo Trio' - 'Gentlemen...' (album)
We featured the Swedish improvisation outfit 'Trio Ramberget' yesterday, and we'll keep with the 'trio'; theme with a few words about another 'hot off the press release', this time by Danish instrumental band the 'Vestbo Trio', who feature Michael Vestbo on guitar, supported by Eddi Jari and Jesper Smalbro on drums / percussion and electric / acoustic bass respectively. We wrote about these guys back in 2015 when they released an album entitled 'While You Were Gone' - still worth checking out, particularly for tracks such as 'Whitewall Tires'.
Now I'm definitely not planning a long review this time, because I really want to spend some time today covering releases we missed from late last year, but this is definitely worth inclusion because I feel increasingly that the level of 'musicianship' that goes into writing (and performances...) such as this is at a level that deserves wider recognition. Hopefully there's a more specialist jazz related website that will still give it the detailed analysis it deserves.
So their latest album is entitled 'Gentlemen...', and straight from 'Grassland' my instinct is to turn this up really loud and let the quality of guitar sound take over the house. The album was recorded in London at Mark Knopflers 'British Grove' studio, and that definitely shows in the production quality - even with my total lack of expertise. Musically I guess I'm drawn towards the more obviously catchy 'It's a Boy', which demonstrate how cleverly the trio are able to 'paint pictures' through instrumental music, but I enjoy in particular the complexity of 'Looking Sharp' too, where the tight precision of the group musically is demonstrated completely, and I love both the lead guitar line and bass contributions.
In 'Sure Knows How to Pick 'em' I like hearing the bass line setting out the early melody, and again the quality in sound from the guitar really shines through, whilst 'Wine and You' offers more thoughtful reflection, with a slightly darker change in direction half way through. 'Levitate' allows an opportunity for some pretty sensational bass and drumming (especially at the end), or may it's just the quality of the sound that again appeals to me. 'Tip of the Hat' is written in a different more intense style, whilst the 7 minute long 'The Game is Afoot' gives an opportunity to showcase the talents of all 3 musicians.
Of course it is likely that an instrumental / jazz influenced album such as this is going to have narrower appeal than many of the mainstream musical releases, but I know that regular readers here appreciate trying any style of music at least once, and there's absolutely no reason why catchy tracks such as 'Looking Sharp' can't be put in the midst of an indie Music Playlist, because the quality of performance is pretty astounding. We're delighted to hear 'Vestbo Trio' sounding so great, and we hope everyone will give 'Gentlemen...' a go.
Nordic Music Review 8/10