Sten Standell Trio Oval

As music ensembles go, piano/bass/drum trios manage to evoke a wariness born out of a long and varied history. The question is: "what’s new?” How do musicians manage to bring something fresh and innovative to a well-worn musical path? There are a few notable examples over the last few years involving people like Christian Wallumrod and Steve Lantner that have managed to raise some eyebrows. You can now add Sten Standell, bassist Johan Berhling and drummer Paal Nillsen-Love to this list. Oval represents a tour de force of dynamic, rhythmic, harmonic sophistication and telepathic interaction that stands up to the best trio recordings in the improvised, or any other, music field. The playing is skilled and sensitive, and the compositional sensibility that pervades this release is nothing short of masterful. The fact that this is a live, one-off recording at a music festival adds to the honest awe of the ability of these musicians to create such strong work at any given moment. While you’ve heard these instruments in this context before, you will rarely have heard them play music this well. (Intakt)