A set of beautiful, melancholy, and Scandinavian sounding tunes

April Records

Frede Holger Thorsen (piano); Gustav Hagelskjær (drums); Harald Hagelskjær (bass)

April Records, a Danish label formed in 1994 with a view to providing a home for Scandinavian electronica, but more recently also seems to specialize in lyrical pretty jazz put out by young musicians.

One of their newest is Brev Til En Ven (Letter To A Friend) by the Kosmos Trio. The trio is made up of pianist Frede Holger Thorsen, drummer Gustaf Hagelskaer, and Gustaf’s brother, bassist Harald Hagelskaer.

They started playing together in 2017.

“The very first time we played together, I thought we were going to do this for the rest of our lives – and I mean what I say,” says Frede Holger Thorsen. This “Letter To A Friend” could be a letter split three ways between these musicians.

All the tunes on this debut recording were written by the trio. The first tune on the CD ‘Morkevandring (A Walk In the Dark)’ is a bit on the gloomy side but the drummer uses his cymbals to brighten things up.

The bass does a couple of slow leisurely walks up and down his 34-inch fingerboard. Frede’s piano follows with a couple of runs of his own. These guys are in tune with each other. No one’s crowding anyone.

On ‘Slow Motion’ Frede likes to explore the upper register of his piano. His left hand starts comping in a different meter than his right. This works. It’s beautiful and really hip.

The title tune, ‘A Letter For A Friend’ has the only drum solo on the CD. The piano starts the tune with the bass in lockstep. You barely hear the brushes on the drums. The drum solo is nothing flashy but it’s a refreshing change of mood. There’s a splash of cymbals and then the piano quietly steps back in.

Denmark has a very long coastline and all the trio members grew up near it. ‘By The Shore’ is a lovely Scandinavian musical remembrance.

There are hundreds of jazz piano trio recordings. One of the earlier trios was formed in 1937 by Nat King Cole. Art Tatum was around the same time. Later on, there was Oscar Peterson, Ahmed Jamal, and Vince Guaraldi. These trios swung like crazy. The Kosmos Trio doesn’t swing but I don’t think they wanted to. They wanted to create a set of beautiful, melancholy, and Scandinavian sounding tunes. I think they succeeded.

Reviewed by Tim Larsen