This is Tor Hammerø’s (TV2) fantastic review of our concert at Jazzfest 2015, May 9th 2015:
Espen Berg – mark that name. The kingdom of Norway has a new master pianist. It’s just a matter of time before the world gets to know about his talent.
Espen Berg (31) originally from Hamar, Norway, but lives in Trondheim where he quite obviously has been studying jazz at the city’s famous jazz department. Now, clearer than ever, he shows us that he is equipped with a mega sized talent. After hearing him as a sideman several times, with Marius Neset among others, and as a solo pianist, this was the first time I experienced him as a leader. And let it be said right away: This concert is one I’m quite sure I will remember for a long. long time.
Berg has been out there for a while now, but for some reasons beyond my belief he hasn’t gotten anywhere near the kind of acknowledgement he deserves. If there’s any kind of justice in this part of the world of jazz, then maybe the relatively new Espen Berg Trio will become his breakthrough.
Last year Berg put together the trio together with his accomplices from the jazz department in Trondheim, Simon Olderskog Albertsen (drums) from Stjørdal, Norway, and Bárður Reinert Poulsen (bass) from the Faroe Islands. They presented an hour long concert for an enthusiastic audience at Dokkhuset, Trondheim’s biggest jazz scene, which demonstrated that this trio holds a high level of quality and originality.
Berg has written all the music, which will be released in Japan shortly, and he picks up inspiration from both the melodic american jazz tradition and our own Nordic folk music. The music and the band are outgoing, and it’s obvious that this unity delivers an incredibly tight interplay. Berg is both a lyricist and a master of harmonies and, even when he has acquired a fantastic two-hand technique, the magnificent technique never gets in way of his ideas. There’s also a violent temper in Berg’s expression – like Chick Corea – and there’s a lot of things going on, sometimes maybe too much, during the quite short versions we were served.
In terms of rhythmics the music is exciting all the way, Albertsen has to be credited for that, and the music get’s the chance to evolve organically and definitely dynamically. The melodic contents are always in the centre of the music. Even if it sounds really free there’s always a structure present, which brings elements from souljazz, gospel – also impliedly funky to a great extent. Then, when the music, the communication between the musicians and the stage talk show an elegant humor – and Berg shows us in the encore that he’s an formidable solo pianist – this concert becomes a definitive highlight at Jazzfest. Espen Berg is ready for any stage, anywhere. Are you listening, Manfred Eicher?