EBT Japan Tour 2016 – updates

Our label and promoter in Japan, Blue Gleam, has worked hard to set up a great tour for us in Japan in July. Here’s the tour list:

The tour is supported by Fund for performing artists, Arts Council Norway, and the Norwegian foreign ministry.

We’re really looking forward to our first visit to Japan!

Upcoming projects in 2016

It’s time for 2016’s first tour next week, and at the same time I will enter a creative mode to compose music for projects scheduled later this year:

  • Anders Thorén’s (dr) upcoming album, together with myself, Seamus Blake (sax), Hayden Powell (trp), and Ole Morten Vågan (bs). Will be recorded in Rainbow Studio late February.
  • A collaborational project called ‘NCO’, with musicians from the Nordic countries, together with Efrain Toro (dr, Puerto Rico) and Sergio Gonzales (dr/voc, Cuba).
  • A new record with Espen Berg Trio to be recorded in December.
  • Tour with EBT featuring Tore Johansen (trp) in October.

This spring I will also play concerts with Kåre Kolve’s (sax) commissioned project originally written for Trondheim Jazz Festival 2015 with Mathias Eick (trp), Anders Jormin (bs), Ivar Kolve (vib) and Per Oddvar Johansen (dr), Trio Tett featuring Hildegunn Øiseth (trp) and Andreas Håkestad (dr), my own trio, and Daniel Herskedal’s “Slow Eastbound Train” in Norway and France.

Right now I’m working hard to finish all teaching and lecturing at the university here in Trondheim so I can be on a leave from March to June together with my family. And I’m of course very, very much looking forward to the Japan Tour with Espen Berg Trio in July.

More great reviews – “Mønster”

Since it’s international and Norwegian launch in September 2015, “Mønster” has gotten even more great reviews. The Japanese Edition was released on Blue Gleam in May 2015, and was recommended by the Japanese magazines JAZZ JAPAN, JAZZ LIFE, CD JOURNAL, and JAZZ PERSPECTIVE.

“Mønster” was awarded as the 6th best release of 2015 by the national Norwegian newspaper DAGSAVISEN, and was described as “the best in the class ‘Art of the Trio’ now”. Here’s more review highlights:

EBT, promo, eng

EBT Japan Tour 2016

July 25th we’re travelling to Japan for a week to play five concerts in and around Tokyo. Blue Gleam, my Japanese label, has done a fantastic job with this tour, and I will post details when we’re closing in on July. I can’t say more at the moment, but we’re looking forward to play at some great venues!

 

Japanese reviews of EBT – “Mønster”

Reviews are in! All of them very positive, and I have managed to get three of them translated to English. These are from major Japanese jazz magazines:

JAZZ PERSPECTIVE
I got surprised when I listened to this. It’s a European jazz album which comprises all the elements of the piano trio, which certainly is a popular format in Japan now. I put my work on a new album on hold and hurried to take a look at this one. It’s very good that Blue Gleam releases such excellent albums as Japanese editions. This is a CD I recommend!
– Takashi Yamamoto, producer DIW/Disk Union Group

JAZZ LIFE
Quiet, beautiful and dynamic
Album by a new and powerful Norwegian pianist
The young Norwegian pianist Espen Berg has already made his début in Norway. In his home country he has released two solo albums, and here is his third one. As with fellow pianists Fred Hersch and Helge Lien, Espen’s playing is both elegant and has a nice touch, which makes the music flow. Of course, it also inherits the sound of elegance, well-known from Scandinavian jazz piano works. It’s not only beautiful, but also powerful, clearly influenced by rock music and the works by Esbjörn Svensson.

Following the beautiful, yet melancholic intro of piano and bass, the charm of this trio opens up widely, and even with the first tune we’re drawn directly into Espen’s musical universe. The seventh and bluesy track shines as one of the best compositions.

CD JOURNAL
Espen Berg is an active composer and a dynamic pianist. This collection consists of his original works only, and many of the melodies has a clear lyrical color. Even though his pervasive, aesthetically beautiful playing unfolds itself intimately together with bass and drums, the compositions themselves evolve this trio’s music. In addition, brilliant piano solos adds an inspiring radiance to this album, and the deep and living touch is also amazing.

Review of Espen Berg Trio’s concert at Jazzfest Trondheim 2015

This is Tor Hammerø’s (TV2) fantastic review of our concert at Jazzfest 2015, May 9th 2015:

Mesmerized

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.

Copyright Arne Hauge

Copyright Arne Hauge

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.

Copyright Arne Hauge

Copyright Arne Hauge

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?

Great collaboration projects for 2015

This year I’ve been invited to participate in some great collaboration projects with artists such as Anders Jormin, Mathias Eick, Kåre Kolve, Ivar Kolve, Per Oddvar Johansen, Mats Eilertsen, Hildegunn Øiseth, Andreas Aase, Tore Johansen and Steinar Krokstad.

Firstly, Kåre Kolve’s commisioned work for Trondheim Jazzfestival “Interactions” with Eick, Jormin, Johansen and Kolve. This is one of the headliner’s at the festival, and I’m very happy to play with my trio as well at Trondheim Jazzfestival. Later on, Espen Berg Trio will also make an appearance at one of the biggest festival’s in Norway, Nattjazz in Bergen.

Updated reviews of Acres of Blue

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to get an incredibly nice review of my latest album by Eyal Hareuveni at All About Jazz. A brief summary of the reviews so far:

Evocative, nuanced stories of dreamy, almost super natural landscapes. Another great work of a true master of the piano.
Eyal Hareuveni, All About Jazz, 03.03.14

Gorgeous solo recording by pianist Berg, who doesn’t leave an inch of any song uncovered by at least a melodic trace. It’s his second solo effort. Noctilucent, his first, was no less beautiful, but this new session just seems to have a larger presence.
– Dave Summer, Emusic, 14.02.14 

Espen Berg’s confirmed belonging to the group of top pianists of his generation, within the divisions of modern jazz- and classical informed music.
– Terje Mosnes, Dagbladet, 05.02.14

With his debut album “Noctilucent” in 2012, Espen Berg appeared as a solo pianist of high rank. With “Acres of Blue” he’s defending his place among the great masters.
– Roald Helgheim, Dagsavisen, 01.02.14

This is open-minded, dreamy and beautiful music. […] To summarize, this is a new rock solid solo album from Espen Berg: Not flamboyant in any way, but delicious, attentive and pretty much epic in its quiet way.
– Geir Vestad, Hamar Arbeiderblad, 30.01.14

From the first note played it’s easy to hear that Berg is a pianist on an internationally high level. He masters all of the instruments many neuances – from the quiet, slow and rich sounding notes to the rapid and powerful passages.
– Trygve Lundemo, Adresseavisen, 11.02.14