Daniel Toledo Trio & Pianohooligan ‘Atrium’ CD/DIG (For Tune) 5/5

Let’s be honest. It would be fair to say that there are many piano/bass/drums jazz trios out there. I don’t have a clue what the numbers are, but in recent years a week doesn’t seem to go by without a batch of new releases seeing the light of day. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining because there are a lot of these that I love. But there are also a few too many that just don’t quite cut it for one reason or another. So what makes a great trio? Well, to my mind, the answer can be narrowed down to this; either the music needs to be highly original, with a fresh slant giving new life to this well-loved genre, or the trio of musicians need to be so intuitively and collectively in tune with one another that the music they create together becomes something special. And I’m pleased to say that the latter definitely applies to this release.

On “Atrium” Ecuadorian bassist Daniel Toledo has teamed up with Swedish drummer Paul Svanberg and Polish pianist Piotr Orzechowski (Pianohooligan). The three musicians are a perfect match for one another, creating some highly engaging music on a level that would suggest the threesome have been working together for years. In fact, this is their first recording together, one which shifts effortlessly from light to dark, from moody to playful, from atmospheric to expressive.

The jazz performed on this session is melodic, lyrical, thoughtful and skillful. All three musicians have to take equal credit for the music they are making. And surely that is the essence of a great trio. There are a few influences that spring to mind whilst listening to this album. “Abridged Perspective” reminds me of the Bobo Stenson Trio, deceptively light, gradually revealing hidden depths of breathless beauty. There are touches of Marcin Wasilewski Trio as I listen to the gorgeously cool and sumptuous romanticism of “Horyzont”. And “Margins” enjoys a definite Keith Jarrett Trio in playful mood feel to it.

“Atrium” is a classic example of three excellent musicians coming together to make music that could be said to be better than the sum of its parts. A lovely album well worth discovering.

Mike Gates