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Svein Finnerud Trio - Under the Radar

  by Keith How

published: 10 / 5 / 2018

Svein Finnerud Trio - Under the Radar


In his 'Under the Radar' column, in which he searches out often under-rated musicians, Keith How reflects on the Svein Finnerud Trio's recently reissued 1970 album 'Plastic Sun' which, inventive and sometimes challenging, brings to light the work of this little known Norwegian jazz trio.

Round about 1970 Miles Davis was confounding the musical landscapes of both jazz and rock with his groundbreaking set 'Bitches Brew'. Other jazz innovators were flexing their muscles, such as Keith Jarrett and Charles Lloyd to name just two. John McLaughlin’s 'My Goals Beyond' was yet to be released. Sun Ra, Pharoah Sanders and the like were forging new ground. In Scandinavia, well away from the Western influences, jazz was also in upheaval. A fledgling ECM label, under the guiding hand of Manfred Eicher, was opening up free and experimental expression in Europe, Jan Gabarek’s 'Afric Pepperbird' being released in 1970. In Norway the Svein Finnerud Trio, formed in 1967, were a fresh voice in the Norwegian jazz scene and were well established by the time 'Plastic Sun' was recorded in the Henie Onstad Art Centre, Hovikodden. With Bjornar Andresen on bass and composition and Espen Rud on drums, the trio created 'Plastic Sun', a lively experimental and almost avant-garde album that, like their live performances, thrilled some listeners and offended others. 'Plastic Sun' creates an incredible landscape. 'Bernhard' written by Andresen opens the album - a lovely piano piece to set the scene opening a Pandora’s box of eclectic invention. 'Alnafet Street' has a sense of funk about it, uptempo and happy before their interpretation of Annette Peacock’s 'Cartoon'. Here the trio come up trumps with this complicated landscape that brings to mind the inventive sounds of 'Musique Concrete'. The trio bounce off each other in complete harmony leaving wide open spaces creating an intriguing piece. Track 6 sees the trio getting to grips with Ornette Coleman’s 'Dee Dee', a thirteen minute excursion into the outer limits of experimental jazz. Quiet ambient moments indispersed with staccato piano and percussion offer a road not often travelled but well worth persevering with. At thirty-five minutes long 'Plastic Sun' is intriguing and fascinating, full of twists and turns and often challenging. Listen with an open mind. As a footnote the psychedelic mandala on the cover is painted by Finnerud, who as well as being a pianist was a painter and graphic designer. What a great combination! He passed on in 2000.

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