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Mulelid’s 2017 debut, also from Rune Grammofon, was the magical Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House. Its sequel maintains the same standard of excellence. Eight of the nine compositions are by the leader, and they’re intensely memorable – their subtle harmonies and lyrical melodies, sometimes with a gospel feel or folk- like character, suggest the influence of Keith Jarrett. Mulelid is a big fan, and also cites Bley, Mehldau, Craig Taborn and ‘Nordic heroes’ Christian Wallumrød and Tord Gustavsen.

It’s brave to open with a slow piece – the title-track. Mulelid describes this open, airy tune as an invitation to the listener, in place of the jazz tradition of uptempo display. Moreover, it turns out there are no genuinely uptempo tracks on the whole album: grooves yes, but nothing fiery.

Like the 2017 album, the new release features shortish pieces – nine tracks in 37 minutes, around four minutes each. Partly this is due to the musicians’ preferred medium: ‘We’re all into LP, which should not exceed twenty-two minutes per side… Also, there is so much good music these days, so we’d better be concise.’ It’s the same highly simpatico trio as on the previous album, with Bjørn Marius Hegge on bass and Andreas Winther on drums. Mulelid grew up in the small village of Hurdal and took a degree in jazz at Trondheim Conservatory, where the trio formed. Th ey’re all in their twenties though their assurance belies their youthfulness.

As with its precursor, it takes several listens before this album’s compelling qualities can be fully grasped. A highlight is the bassist’s contribution ‘Bruremarsj’ (Wedding March), an affecting piece of Americana – the composer’s inspiration was apparently a recording by folk singer Peggy Seeger, Animal Folk Songs for Children. ‘Far Away’ is a solo piano interlude, while ‘A Cautionary Tale’ is slow and beautifully plangent.

A great album, and further testament to Norway’s thriving musical culture.

ANDY HAMILTON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2019 - ©Rhinegold Publishing