5/5 from UK Vibe

Every so often an album comes along that ticks all the boxes in all the right places. Hüm’s debut release “Don’t take it so personally” is a perfect example of this. Hüm is a trio led by pianist and composer Bojan Marjanović, with double bassist Bjørnar Kaldefoss Tveite and drummer Magnus Sefaniassen Eide. Whilst the trio wholly embrace the Nordic jazz aesthetic, there is thrilling originality to their music that is rarely matched in a debut recording.

I am reminded of the time when I first heard the music of Esbjorn Svensson Trio. I went to a gig at around the time of their release “From Gagarin’s Point of View”, probably around 2000/2001. The trio were a breath of fresh air back then and I distinctly remember the thrill and excitement I felt seeing them perform live and listening to their incredible albums, as well as watching them, in later years, grow into the tour-de-force that they became on the European jazz scene. This is how I feel about Hüm. On the evidence of this album, I see no reason why they can’t conquer the world in the same way that EST did all those years ago.

Pianist Marjanović was born in Serbia (former Yugoslavia), growing up studying classical piano, primarily as a self-taught musician learning music through intensive listening and transcribing his favourite recordings. After years of working on many projects and gaining experience by playing with different musicians, he received a formal jazz education when he got his second Master’s degree from the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, Norway. Simultaneously with his academic training, he has been active not only as a classical pianist but also as a jazz pianist within many projects both as a sideman and the leader, living in Norway since 2016. Combining Nordic and Serbian musical traditions, his compositions for Hüm are adventurous and riveting in a way that defines the very best European jazz ensembles.

“Don’t take it so personally” comprises nine compelling tunes, each one bringing something special, a feast for the ears one might say. I could pick out any number of these tunes to wax lyrical over, but It’s important to say first and foremost that from a musical point of view, Hüm is a trio in the proper sense of the word. The music would be lessened without any one of its performers, the piano, bass and drums working in perfect harmony with one another. For a debut as stunning as this one, it is indeed a rare thing and I’m fascinated by the way all three musicians interact and combine so effectively within the tunes they’re performing. The spellbinding opener “Dream Beliefs” has me hooked after just a few seconds. Its elegance and graceful beauty won’t let me go, pulling on my emotions as I’m taken deeper and deeper into its own majestic, ruminating atmosphere. Another favourite of mine is the intriguing “Arctic Ice”, with its darker, spacious ambience drifting in and out of a frozen moment in time. The trio’s ‘raison d’etre’ however, surely has to be the magnificent “Peculiar Being”. A compositional masterclass, all three musicians bring reverence, energy, and a sublime togetherness that literally has me on the edge of my seat. Melodious, sweepingly lyrical, with fabulous interplay and soloing, this really is a remarkable piece of music that sums up perfectly what is so wonderful and characterful about this trio.

Summing up, this debut from Hüm has it all. If the trio continue writing and performing with the same skill and passion in the years ahead, who knows where their music will take them. For now though, I highly recommend you go check out “Don’t take it so personally”. You’ll thank me later. And if you don’t, I promise not to take it personally.

Mike Gates