Album review by All About Jazz

This debut by Norwegian piano trio HÜM slowly sneaks up on the listener, gently crawling out from the speakers with the quietly crashing cymbals, dashing piano figurations and crisp double bass lines one today typically associates with terms like “European contemporary” and “chamber-jazz.” And no one can deny that pianist Bojan Marjanovic, bassist Bjørnar Kaldefoss Tveite and drummer Magnus Sefaniassen Eide borrow a great deal from the piano trio tradition that the celebrated Munich-based ECM Records is known for having helped shape and develop over the past five decades. But along with the hushed and whispered element, as in the understated interplay the trio presents on opener “Dream Beliefs” and the patiently crescendoing “Kringsjå Blå,” also comes a groovy, rhythmically pronounced inclination that favors an R’n’B-esque backbeat over the more abstract slow burn (“After Hours”) and a mainstream melodiousness as well as beat-concentric immediacy (“Sedmaya”) over more latent melodies and pulses. Amidst the forms and structures brilliant musicianship comes to the fore, marked by Marjanovic’s swift flight across the keys as demonstrated on “Kringsjå Blå,” the firm groundwork on bass, that doesn’t quite break through the supporting role but reveals yet is far more than a passive accompaniment nonetheless. Eide’s stick-and brushwork is lively and varied, equally capable in adaptive rubato contexts and stricter environments, bound to odd meters. The group is at its best when it almost entirely lets go of the pre-composed notions, and maybe keeps to the harmonic framework but otherwise feels free to indulge every other spontaneous idea in the moment. It only happens occasionally here, but when it does, HÜM prove to be more than a breath of fresh air.