What a great title for a record first of all! Badgers and Other Beings is an album of clever jazz featuring pianist, drums and bass. The Helge Lien Trio has been a bit of a hit on the jazz scene since their breakthrough album Hello Troll and it’s no wonder really. Lien is joined here by Frode Berg on bass and Per Oddvar Johansen on drums with the album having been recorded at Rainbow Studios in Oslo and released on the Ozella label. Here it was downloaded from HIGHRESAUDIO and the quality of the recording is again superb.

Listening to Badgers and Other Beings it’s very easy to see (hear) why Lien is held in such high regard as a musician and composer. His playing has a really dynamic feel to it and a deftness of touch that sets him apart from some others I have heard recently.

The compositions here are definitely in the jazz arena but, like the Jan Lundgren album we recently reviewed, it’s accessible and not at all overly challenging…this is a good thing to me as a newbie to this style of music.

The album and music therein is somewhat dark in its character and a touch moody in places but then on the other hand it is uplifting and bright as demonstrated on tunes such as Calypso in Five. The tunes Joe and  Knut throw the spotlight on the other musicians a little more, but the real star here is clearly the piano playing. This said the three musicians play off each other very nicely indeed and the whole is certainly greater than the sum of its parts.

As a whole the album works really well and is quite contemplative in its style. As mentioned the musicianship is exemplary with light and dark passages in places and managing to go from subdued understatement to quite full on stomp (The New Black) without losing track of the musical theme.

I didn’t know the Helge Lien trio before this album I’m sorry to say, but it’s been played a good deal over the last week or so. It’s a complex enough album to be a very interesting listen but not so difficult or challenging that it becomes over bearing and pretentious to the point of unlistenability.

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