Music In Curved Tempi

Danish pianist Søren Bebe’s trio opens up a wormhole in music’s time, space and tempo continuum. To place this coy piece, we should investigate a clash of ideas which seems to occur only in the Nordic.


My first thought on Søren Bebe Trio “Trieste” is Edward Grieg. The composer of the soundtrack to Norwegian mountains and fjords studied in Leipzig and København, but Bebe’s micro-improvised lyric piece does sound just as mountainous brook-trickling as nothing south of Telemark.

“Trieste” is not quite as continental sounding as Tord Gustavsen Trio, and it a has a little less Midwestern Nordic style than Mathias Eick’s (even more garbarekian than Jan Garbarek) Midwest (featuring pianist extraordinaire Andreas Ulvo).

Has Søren Bebe gone completely Norwegian this time? There must be something else laying under here. Some sort of distinctly Nordic bedrock mindset, a paradox of pietist aesthetics — a complete duality where Kierkegaard’s existentialism meets Blixen’s Babette’s Feast. (Søren Kierkegaard used “aesthetic lifestyle” to signify the antipole to pietism.) These mindsets were amplified by distance from continental Europe, and Norway was part of Denmark 1537-1814, stretching 1,700 kilometers (1,060 miles) north from the northernmost point of Denmark.

where Kierkegaard’s existentialism meets Blixen’s Babette’s Feast

The paradox grows further when you take into account that the numerous pietist movements were thrown out of Europe for intransigence towards diversity in society, quite often intolerance of society as such, and thus made up the composition of society and culture in The New Land – also in the “Nordic” Midwest.

soren_bebe_press2Not portrayed by these musics, but connoted and denoted within, the music encompasses all this time and space reference points by intuition, but also from knowledge. Its true aesthetics, not of the kierkegaardian kind, lies in that other hand: tempi. This is where the Nordic catalyst makes up a whole new palette to the art form.

Gustavsen, Eick, Ulvo and Bebe are triumphant in bringing the intransigent heritage a fervent soul from the blues and an almost trance-like spirit from indigenous musics. They rip loose the noble European art of Meditations — yes, the form of music pieces — and brings it to new life by inclusion.

It is a space and time travel without moving. It’s the halting of time at reaching the speed of light.

Eick’s Midwest makes its distinct scandinavity a huge paradox, not only by name. Søren Bebe’s “Trieste” is not the lesser paradoxical. Named after the border city way northeast in Italy, between Alpine and Dalmatian, between mountain, valley and sea, she shares the connotations to Babette’s Fiest — a departure from the pious Nordic to southern temperament — and Edward Grieg, who on his hand made an at the time downright fashionable (at the time) pilgrimage sort of visit to The land of arts and aesthetics, but not pietism.

And this is now: These Nordic giants of jazz gives the term “timeless” cosmic new meaning. It is a space and time travel without moving. It’s the halting of time at reaching the speed of light. It is one small trio in numerous times and places at once, more classical than classical, of course it is less blues than blues, but this is the soul and the spirit of European jazz — at the rift in the music’s spacetime continuum that occurs between aurora borealis and the hole in the ozone layer.

That is where the unearthly beauty of the unverbalizable opens our minds, where music takes new forms, where less becomes more in outermost consequence, where simplification and the art of omitting notes or delaying one counts more for virtuosity than all the Paganinis, Mutters, Petruccis, Thibaudets or Yundi Lis the planet can throw at us.

musica nei tempi curvata.

It’s not music where tempi shall challenge the space-time compression of the post-postmodern world. This music is not in the speed of the outside world. Its speed is the resonance of the human body and spirit. Its core is in the paradox of speed and time not being the same, as the time halts and the universe bends off as the speed of light is reached.

The next note is touched around the bend. Universe conjure, at the standstill at the speed of light, the replacement of next tone being what with when. It is musica nei tempi curvata.


SorenBebeTrio2015Søren Bebe Trio

Søren Bebe – piano
Anders Mogensen – drums
Kasper Tagel – double bass






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