Review: Tingvall Trio

Tingvall Trio, Pizza Express, June 2012. Photo credit: Roger  Thomas

Tingvall Trio
(Pizza Express Dean St., Wed 20th June 2012.Review by Alison Bentley)


Trolls, monsters, cats, sharks- and a moustache! All to be heard in the Hamburg-based Tingvall Trio's first UK gig, in the suitably cavernous depths of the Pizza Express Jazz Club. The trio's playful side contrasted with their dreamy evocation of ethereal landscapes, in Swedish pianist Martin Tingvall's compositions. He lives partly in Wallander country, and the misty cover of their new CD Vagen could be a film still.

The CD was No 1 in the German jazz charts, and they've won, unusually, two prestigious ECHO awards- best ensemble and best live band. They're a powerful force live. Their rapport is intuitive and mesmeric. Tingvall and drummer Jürgen Spiegel worked together as a duo before meeting Cuban bassist Omar Rodríguez Calvo in 1993. They obviously really enjoy each other's playing, and their strength is the way their different influences fuse into one- classical, heavy rock, drum 'n' bass, Latin and African rhythms. The dynamics are breathtaking- from a whisper to a scream in a second.

Martin Tingvall loves strong melodies, and writes tunes that keep you awake in the middle of the night. Title track Vagen (Road) (their 'single', he joked) has an innocence and openness, the bass playing harmony lines with the piano. There are overtones of mentor Bobo Stenson. Movie is a slow spacey tune, the spaces filled with Spiegel's semiquavers- almost drum 'n' bass, while Den Ensamme Mannen , with its Chopin-like melody, is almost a slow tango. Hjalten has echoes of Keith Jarrett's Country, or of John Taylor's lyricism.

The band are also AC/DC fans and there are acoustic echoes of heavy rock in the cadences, as in Tveklost. (More IV V I than II V I!) He's very influenced by classical composers, and this has shades of Sibelius' Finlandia or a Beethoven theme. Unlike precursors e.s.t., they prefer the natural sounds of the instruments, but Tingvall's creative use of the pedal to create dissonant, shimmering overtones in the ballads adds eerieness and beauty.

The band play a lot in Spain, and Tingvall admires Chick Corea-, and Sevilla, Hajskraj(Afraid of Sharks), and Shejk Schroder hint at flamenco. The latter combines it with a rock swagger, recalling the Bad Plus. Calvo's beautiful arco bass solo added a gypsy quality. Mustasch is a fast 5/4 tango, with rippling descending piano triads, glissandi and some McCoy Tyner physicality. Spiegel's hero is Tony Williams, and he's equal to a high energy rock crescendo, when not subtly enhancing every nuance of the tune. Trolldans and Monster were funky, groovy, with crashing chromatic piano chords, and Mjau (Miaow) was the 'cat party in the basement', a tumbling samba with a whisker of calypso.

The audience were on the edge of their seats- cheering the mix of pastoral mysticism, spirited Latin rhythms, sweet melodies and dark rock. Don't miss this band next time!

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