IN DENMARK, the traditional expression of ‘hygge’ (rather than its commercial ‘hijacking’) can be defined as an acceptance of what we have; the contentment in taking time to celebrate, with family and friends, life’s simpler pleasures. And the shortening of daylight hours – when all outside seems endlessly dark and cold – can, indeed, find us grateful to retire to the familiar warmth and coziness of our dwellings… if we are so fortunate.
Reflecting that ambience, Danish pianist Søren Bebe’s latest trio release Home, with bassist Kasper Tagel and drummer Anders Mogensen, is an intimate collection of original material which never shouts from the rooftops. Instead, each of its eleven compositions is conveyed through spacious, considered serenity, not unlike the work of Tord Gustavsen (Tango for T is intentionally and recognisably in homage). Yet, Bebe has his own imprint, delivering Time with such delicacy of restraint (Tagel’s high bass melodies quite affecting), whilst quietly rhythmic, Latinesque A Simple Song is ornamented with a precision of touch which isn’t simple to accomplish.
Averaging four minutes, the pianist’s compositions don’t overstay their welcome – in fact, the entire programme resembles a partita as the succinctness of each ‘movement’ roomily achieves its intentions before moving naturally into the next. The gossamer suspension of Look Out Now hints both at Bill Evans and Erik Satie, its major/minor moods blurring 4/4 with 3/4; and Tyst (‘Quietly’) magically jangles to Mogensen’s miniature bells, evoking memories of the MJQ’s Connie Kay (more of such oblique enchantments will always be welcome).
The Path to Somewhere appropriately feels its way through softly-beaten percussion, and Haarlem Landscape – part of a 2011 suite commissioned by the National Gallery of Denmark – waltzes gracefully, as if pictorialising marbled hallways of grand masters’ artworks (Harald Slott-Møller comes to mind). Trieste‘s Gustavsen-like clarity and rising progression display a quiet confidence, as does Bebe’s softly-lit title track, full of meticulous, folky piano inflections. The darker, chromatic chordal shifts of Floating are redolent of Esbjörn Svensson; and reverent Tak (‘Thank You’), with Tagel’s cantabile bass again so listenable, closes almost prayerfully.
Recorded and mixed by renowned engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug, Søren Bebe reveals that this album is the truest he has been to his artistic vision, and therefore it feels like Home to him. It may well also hold the sense of equilibrium that so many of us seek; after all, creative music can possess the extraordinary power, even as subtly as this, to reach deeply into our souls.
Released on 1 November 2016 and available as CD or digital download at Bandcamp.
Studio video: Trieste.
Søren Bebe piano
Kasper Tagel bass
Anders Mogensen drums
Find Out Here Music – FOHMCD008 (2016)