Benjamin Gisli Trio, Line of Thought | The Vinyl Anachronist

benjamin gisli trio

This is the perfect time of year for the Benjamin Gisli Trio and their new album, Line of Thought. The holidays are over and now we northerners can look forward to a period of hibernation, and an introspective piano trio like this is ideal for those days when you just want to sit and listen and look out the windows for the first sign of snow–which allegedly never happens where I now live. I used to listen to numerous titles from 2L Recordings this time of year, but his year I have but one in the review pile. My mystery friend/publicist in Europe who sends me all sorts of dreamy, edgy jazz from places like Switzerland and Russia has been busy, however, and now is the time for me to match my output to hers.

Words and Music by Marc Phillips

The Benjamin Gisli Trio is based in Iceland, with Andreas Solheim on bass, Vesleymoy Narvesen on percussion and Benjamin Gisli Einarsson leading on piano. I haven’t listened to a ton of Icelandic jazz at this point, but I suspect that a country of less than a half million people doesn’t have a ton of anything. What’s there is special, and reflective of the land. We should be used to this by now, the fact that jazz from Scandinavia and Northern Europe has this delicate patina forged by long winters spent, of course, by staring out of windows while composing music. There’s an incredible amount of beauty on display here, which I’ll take over manic polyrhythms and big band tsunamis of sound any ol’ day–especially this soon after the new year.

Line of Thought, however, has plenty to say about the dynamics of a jazz piano trio–the magic is in the space between the three performers and how they fill it up with quiet, careful communication and focused energy. Tempos are languid but the melodies are haunting and strong, and Benjamin Gisli has a gift of playing economically while pushing out big waves of emotions. This sense of barely audible thunder is enhanced through a stellar recording and clean LP pressing (from the Reyjavik Record Shop label with Birgir Jon Birgisson as engineer)–if you need a primer on piano decay and how to judge it, start here.

Line of Thought goes by quickly since it’s just a tad over 30 minutes of spare and haunting ballads, original compositions by Benjamin Gisli with the exception of a cover of Carla Bley’s “Ida Lupino.” Each time I listen to this album, and it’s been quite a few times by now, I float away into the winter fog that’s been blanketing everything for the last few weeks. I picked this album as one of my favorites for 2023, and it’s going to carry me through the coldest part of the year–my favorite time of the year.

line of thought lp

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