Benedikt Jahnel Trio ‘The Invariant’ (ECM) 4/5

Piano trios have become one of the most prominent features of the emergence of new jazz musicians over the last fifteen years or so, and ECM have succeeded in discovering a few of the most creative. Thirty-six year old and Berlin-based pianist and composer Benedikt Jahnel comfortably fits into this category and this new recording comes on the back of his critically acclaimed debut for ECM in 2102, ‘Equilibrium’. The international line-up of Spaniard Antonio Miguel on double bass and Canadian Owen Howard on drums (who has performed with John Abercrombie, Dave Holland and Joe Lovano among others) operate as a highly effective trio and the textured sounds and performances are made all the more interesting by the use on several numbers of unusual tempi. At just forty-five minutes long, there is no filler and the conciseness definitely works in the trio’s favour, with an overall understated collective voice. The all-original compositions are those of a mature musician leader, and one who has been influenced by swing jazz as well as more contemporary voices such as Michel Petrucciani, and who has a clear idea of where he is heading. This is illustrated on the classically-influence opener, ‘Further consequences’, that betrays a strong to Brad Mehldau, and flows effortlessly.

Bass lines are well defined, and a warm and often intimate sound is created by the trio on pieces such as, ‘The circuit’, with a fine bass solo. In general, it is the apparent simplicity of the playing that is communicated so well, and underneath the music is refined. Both American and continental European dates are planned, but nothing in the UK as yet.

Tim Stenhouse