It’s an exhilarating ride and little wonder the audience goes wild at its conclusion.

C-Nut Records C-Nut 18 

Michael Blicher (saxophones, additional percussion); Dan Hemmer (Hammond organ); Steve Gadd (drums); Eddi Jarl (tambourine track 2 & 6); Rune Harder Olesen (conga track 6)

Recorded: Michael Blicher garden studio, Copenhagen, live recordings Esbjerg, Denmark, Larvik, Norway, Helsinki, Finland, Gl. Rye, Denmark, no dates

Drummer Steve Gadd needs few introductions and is undoubtedly one of the most influential drummers of his generation, playing with a vast array of jazz, pop, rock, blues and soul artists, from Chet Baker to Eric Clapton to Steely Dan.

The other two members of this trio – saxophonist Michael Blicher and organist Dan Hemmer are both Danish and less well known, but you can be sure that Steve Gadd is not going to form a jazz trio with a pair of second-rate musicians – Blicher has won the Danish equivalent of the Grammys four times.

Blicher also composed all the tunes; co-arranged them with Gadd and Hemmer and produced the album. This band has played together for more than ten years, touring extensively and recording three previous albums.

Gadd is no stranger to trios – the 2005 super trio featuring Gadd, Chick Corea on keyboards and Christian McBride on bass, springs to mind, but this line-up eschews all stringed instruments.

This is a hybrid album in that it combines studio recordings with live tracks. The original plan to record a full studio album was scuppered by the Covid pandemic, so only two tracks (the first and last) are studio works. The remaining five tracks are taken from concerts played around the Nordic region.

This album is available in both LP and CD versions, and one gets the impression that a decision was made not to short-change LP buyers, because the CD contains only 35 minutes of music.

I know that it is better to listen to 10 minutes of good music than ten hours of bad, but when you consider that a CD can hold up to 80 minutes of music, it’s a shame more live recordings weren’t included, not least because this is a terrific band.

Only two numbers pass the six-minute mark (and then, not by much), with most lasting around 4 minutes plus, so don’t expect any extended band workouts (which some will find a blessing).

The opener ‘Any Moment Now’ is a bluesy number that has Hemming playing a swinging, chopping rhythm on the Hammond organ and Gadd showing a lightness of touch on the bass drum and cymbals. Blicher’s smooth sax lines weave their way throughout the track.

The trio format means there’s plenty of space for all the instruments, but the music still manages to sound full – you don’t miss the absence of a bassist, for example.

‘Susanna’ is infused with the sound of gospel and blues, with Blicher’s sax sounding like a preacher addressing his congregation, and Gadd’s steady cymbal taps reminding me of his playing on Bob James’ ‘Tappan Zee.’ Hemmer is a master of the Hammond organ, and on ‘Through The Hurricane’ he unleashes a blistering solo.

‘The First To Know’ is a dream-like ballad with a theme that brings to mind ‘The Star Spangled Banner.’ The title track is a gem, a slow blues that shows all three players at the top of their game. Blicher and Hemmer both play extended solos, while Gadd – using brushes – ably demonstrates why less is more.

The way Gadd supports the soloists is a textbook example for all drummers, especially when Blicher steps up a gear and Gadd seamlessly follows suit. Gadd gets his moment in the spotlight on the lively ‘Lady Tambourine’, with its marching drum pattern and long drum solo featuring his signature drag snare technique – think Paul Simon’s ’50 Ways To Leave Your Lover’ meets Steely Dan’s ‘Aja’.

It’s an exhilarating ride and little wonder the audience goes wild at its conclusion.

The closing number ‘Snow’ is a hymn-like ballad (the liner notes state that Hemmer recorded some additional organ parts in a church).

Everyone plays with great tenderness, and it’s a beautiful piece that fades out far too soon (just as Hemmer starts soloing) – another consequence of the ‘make it all fit on an LP’ dictum? I really enjoyed this album, but it’s rather like having a great meal at a restaurant and wishing the portion sizes were larger.