Sten Sandell Trio | Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theater | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Sten Sandell Trio Recommended Free All Ages Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Tue., Jan. 27, 7 p.m. 2009

The Sten Sandell Trio, like all the great piano trios, has an extraordinary command of dynamics. There’s a thrilling moment on their 2007 album Oval (Intakt) where the Swedish pianist pits a massive, static left-hand rumble against fleet, quiet high-end filigree, then disperses those twin streams of sound into a fine spray of brushed drums and plucked bass notes that glitter and glow against his suddenly muffled keyboard tones. The drummer, Norwegian Paal Nilssen-Love, can easily match the volume and detail of Sandell’s attack, yet he can also throttle back to a barely-there rustle that sweeps around the bandleader’s bold figures. Bassist Johann Berthling, also a Norwegian, often plays more quietly than the others—rather than draw attention to himself, he works from within the music, clarifying Sandell’s harmonies and fueling the group’s momentum. Though he doesn’t do it on Oval, an all-acoustic outing, Sandell often uses wordless throat singing or electronically warped vocalizations to add an otherworldly fourth voice. He’s performed and recorded in Chicago several times, but in its ten-year history this trio has never played here—in fact, this is its first U.S. tour. All three members will play Wednesday at the Hideout, though not as a group (see separate List item), and Thursday at Elastic the trio will be joined by reedist Ken Vandermark. —Bill Meyer

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