Erskine/Danielsson/Taylor: Time Being (ECM 1532)

Peter Erskine
Time Being

John Taylor piano
Palle Danielsson double-bass
Peter Erskine drums
Recorded November 1993 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Once the lyricism of “Terraces” eases its way into our hearts, we know we’re in for a sublime experience on Time Being, drummer Peter Erskine’s sophomore effort with his European trio. His sensitivity behind bassist Palle Danielsson’s equally considered solo, peeking above the horizon like the edge of a flock in silhouette, reveals sensuous technique further through the cymbals and butterfly snare of “For The Time Being,” the beautiful and responsive brushwork of “Phrase One,” and the soothing dance-like movements of “Palle’s Headache” and “Evansong.” Yet it is John Taylor, playing the piano as a blind man might touch a face, who makes this date the melodic gem that it is. We hear it already in “If Only I Had Known,” sparkling blurrily in a visual language all its own. Taylor continues to take in every movement of leaf and shade in “Page 172,” which feels like a dream an old windup clock might have, a child’s automaton stretching its hands toward darkness. For “Bulgaria” he takes some thematic cues from folk music of the same. The Bobo Stenson feel on this track pays lovely tribute to the milieu from which he has grown. Danielsson paints a complementary impressionism, putting full heart into every brushstroke of “Liten Visa Till Karin” and in the fluid rustle of “Pieds-en-l’air,” ending a cordially realized set.

These images speak to us in indications, each a fragment of a mosaic beyond even the musicians’ comprehension. It is that same font into which all great improvisers dip, a well of limitless creation that proceeds and recedes simultaneously, churning sentiment at the edge of a pond where inhibition ends and light begins. This is jazz of delectable subtlety that will embrace you, and another masterpiece from a trio that grew in leaps and bounds with every release.

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