Daniel Karlsson Trio - Fusion for Fish
(Brus Records 034 (CD) Knaster 034 (180 G Vinyl LP). CD Review by Rob Mallows)
Swedish pianist Daniel Karlsson’s adopts the standard piano trio format, but his music is anything but formulaic. Influences such as club music, dance and electronica are evident - and it makes for great listening.
Karlsson is a member of the Magnus Öström Band - as is guitarist Andreas Hourdakis who features on two tracks of this second album by Karlsson as leader - and you can tell instantly that there’s a strong rhythmic component to this music with a modern, metronomic and hypnotic drum beat to many tracks that suggests a family lineage back to E.S.T. as well as the the rich Nordic heritage in jazz piano.
Karlsson has played with most of the contemporary Swedish greats and many European stars so he’s earned his jazz spurs. Alongside Karlsson are the musicians who appeared on his first album Das Taxibåt (2013), drummer Fredrik Rundquist and bassist Kristian Lind who provide good support and touches of individual colour when required. This is an album of unashamedly modern European jazz that is rooted in the rich soil of the contemporary scene, rather than reaching back into the past.
Opener Cousin cuisine bursts into life with a really insistent bass riff throughout that propels with its simplicity, allowing Karlsson to spread out over the top of it with some telling phrases that have a real positivity to them. Some of his electronic interludes, with their deep bass sound, suggest the underwater, hinting at the theme of the title track Fusion for fish, which is fast paced and packed with phrases that dart around, bringing to mind perhaps a shoal of whitebait. Fourth cut Route 222 - which leads who knows where - is a more straightforward slower tempo piece, leading into the up-beat Freshwater Tourist, which, with its block chord main theme, sounds a little like the Neil Cowley Trio.
The stand-out track is the penultimate piece Mrs Mermaid, with a simple melody which gives Hourdakis plenty to work with and he doesn’t disappoint, even with a relatively restrained guitar solo: he is, for me, one of the most distinctive guitar voices in European jazz and a great addition to the trio.
What London's fish community thinks of this album is a mystery; but for those of us on dry land it offers a very welcome hour of fusion-tinged power jazz. Having enjoyed Karlsson’s playing with the Magnus Öström Band it’s great to hear more of his distinct voice on this, his second album, and I’m certainly tempted now to seek out this first.