Young is able to colour his own solos with a chordal accompaniment when he sees fit to do so, although more frequently space is the order of the day.
ECM 2764 / 488 3269
Jacob Young (guitar); Mats Eilertsen (double bass); Audun Kleive (drums)
Recorded May 2021
It was surprising to learn that this Jacob Young’s first trio recording with a classic line up of guitar, bass and drums but he sets the record straight with this lovely album.
He also offers up nine new compositions that possess all the hallmarks of his writing for a small group that have been heard on his previous ECM albums, yet in this more open and sparse setting that lose none of their vitality and delicate feeling of intricacy.
Without the use of frontline horns to colour the ensemble Young’s compositions have a new feeling of directness. The melodies are first and foremost and not masked or embellished but are more simply stated.
As he has also jettisoned the use of another chordal instrument in the group this has freed things up harmonically, and with the empathetic commentary from Eilertsen and Kleive the arrangements and sound of the group is full without ever being crowded.
The music exudes a feeling of liberation for the guitarist and indeed the trio as a collective. Young is able to colour his own solos with a chordal accompaniment when he sees fit to do so, although more frequently space is the order of the day.
‘Northbound’ exemplifies this with an ethereal opening before Jacob almost hesitantly lays out the melody. Bass and drums are restrained, and the sense of time and spaciousness prevails.
This is also true of the opening title track that so prominently features Eilertsen’s superb bass playing, and it sounds as if Young and Kleive are supporting the bass as lead instrument in the ensemble.
The guitar then comes to the fore as the drummer kicks things up a gear or two, before gently winding down again over quietly stated Eilertson’s arco bass.
The music is not all gentle and relaxed as the trio reveal a tougher side to their playing on the edgy and groove driven ‘I Told You In October’ and ‘Schönstedtstraße’ in which the drummer’s rock solid and tasteful playing guides proceedings.
The leader takes an exceptional solo, and the bassist finds space in the busy dialogue between drums and guitar to lay down a line that is propulsive and melodic.
Keeping the programme varied, there are two ballads by Jacob that serve as much more than calming respites within the set. ‘The Meaning of Joy’ again features Eilertsen’s full toned double bass alongside a delicate melody from the guitar, and ‘Moon Over Meno’ is just one of those lyrical pieces that draw in the listener completely. Who can resist such a beautiful song with such sensitive group interplay?
This is the guitarist’s fourth album for ECM, and each has revealed not just continuous development but a different side to Young’s playing. Over the course of his career to date, Young has played in many different bands and contexts in addition to leading his own groups.
With Eventually it appears that the guitarist is now distilling all he has learned into a leaner and more compact setting and placing himself at the heart of the music in a new and ultimately satisfying way.