Pat Metheny may not have been the first to master the art of the guitar trio when he recorded Rejoicing with Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins in 1983, but he is arguably among the most prominent champions of the format. What’s more, he is the guitarist whose 1990 trio album Question and Answer opened Andrés Thor’s eyes up to a whole new world of idioms and set the Icelandic guitarist on a journey of musical exploration: Hereby is his most recent discovery on that journey.
The title track has a strong chordal main theme with a good supporting bass line and drum patterns. Changes within the tune are subtle but the dynamics do shift, particularly when Andrés plays in the upper register with firmer drumming from Magnús Trygvason Eliassen. This is a fine mid-tempo opener to the album and gives an indication of the style of playing to be expected. ‘The Man Who Came to Play’ could be the title of a Graham Greene novel with its light tinge of film noire theme tune styling. I like the interaction between guitar and bass and the way they weave around each other across the tune.
‘Teabreeze’ is a lightly swinging number with a good melody and its understated after hours club feel. As with the previous track it is the interaction within the trio that makes this track work so well. That movement between guitar and bass has already been mentioned but it is also present here between guitar and drums with a good trading section towards the latter part of the tune. ‘Stóísk’ is a slow burner of a tune with a beautiful melody. The playing here is understated, delicate, with good use of the brushwork of Magnús Trygvason Eliassen.
There is a more energetic sound to ‘Whisper’ with its different guitar sound and technique. The structure of the tune is similar to other tracks on the album but the vibrancy of the playing, with a more expansive use of the fretboard, allows it to stand out. The bass line sits back on this number giving a more prominent stage for the drums to play their part through to the strong abrupt ending. ‘Gagarin’, although there is no reference to the Russian cosmonaut in the press release, does have an ethereal quality to its sound. Phrases like “tonal palette” and “soundscape” come to mind listening to this tune but I do like the way that notes are allowed to fade out before the next is played.
‘Spor’ brings the album back to earth with those impressive guitar and bass line blends complemented by unobtrusive drum patterns. This is a bright, uplifting tune and a good contrast to the space sound of ‘Gagarin’. The bass of Nico Moreaux opens ‘Summer Night’ before the acoustic guitar of Andrés Thor is added to the sound. The sound is now takes on a different dimension to that heard so far: the notes feel more considered, more placed, almost classical in styling. The warmth of the tune comes from the bass with the shading provided by the brushwork on the drums.
‘December Cucumber’ is the final track of the album and Andrés Thor continues with the acoustic guitar. I like the melody of this number but there is something about the way the tune is constructed that makes it stand for me. There are a number of different but complementary ideas being pulled together here and, for me, the result is effective and enjoyable – like much of this album really.
Although it is Andrés Thor ‘s name on the front cover of this album, this is very much a trio album that without the sensitive accompaniment of bassist Nico Moreaux and drummer Magnús Trygvason Eliassen would not work as well as it does. This is another strong release from the Losen Records label that, like so much good jazz music, benefits from repeated listening – an album to really engage with. This is a textural album, whose tones and sounds weave their way across the time allotted them. The effect of what can be heard and felt cannot be defined by words so I can only suggest that you listen and draw your own conclusions.
Musicians: Andrés Thor – guitar; Nico Moreaux – double bass; Magnús Trygvason Eliassen – drums.
Tracklist: 1. Hereby. 2. The Who Came to Play. 3. Teabreeze. 4. Stóísk. 5. Whisper. 6. Gagarin. 7 Spor. 8. Summer Night. 9. December Cucumber.
All compositions by Andrés Thor.
Release date Friday, 13 May, 2022