Ferenc Snétberger guitar
Anders Jormin double bass
Joey Baron drums
Recorded May 2015 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: April 21, 2017
Hungarian guitarist Ferenc Snétberger returns to ECM after an enchanting solo concert debut, now exploring 13 originals with an expansive trio. In that sense, bassist Anders Jormin and drummer Joey Baron are more than mere allies called upon to flesh out skeletal tunes, but musicians whom Snétberger has clearly admired from afar and who now mesh seamlessly with his acoustic nexus. The centering of a nylon-string classical guitar where normally an electric might be creates conversational sonorities with Jormin, while Baron acts as interpreter for their linguistically variant modes of expression.
The album opens and closes with a total of five spontaneous tracks, each exploring a unique plane of the trio’s many-sided synergy. The last of these ends with the bandleader by his lonesome, slinking off into the night with great expectations in tow. Between those exes on the map, the listener is treated to a dotted line winding along superbly thought-out terrain. Both “Kék Kerék” and “Rambling” reveal an artist who lives by that frequent traveler’s credo: anything goes. That said, their paths are anchored by wholesome melodies that feel predictive of their course.
From here, the set develops in stages, moving from the intimacy of “Orange Tango” (noteworthy for Jormin’s song-like bassing) and “Fairytale,” through the sun-kissed foliage of “Álom” and the lullaby of “Leolo” (dedicated to Snétberger’s grandson), and on to the jauntier “Ease,” in which the trio moves so effortlessly as to seem blood-related. All of these gestures come together in the dance that is “Renaissance,” wherein ancient and future impulses find common ground.
Titok is yet another of those albums that would never have existed without the faith of producer Manfred Eicher, whose choice of musicians, sequencing of tunes, and encouragement of freedom are felt from start to finish, making it one of the most indispensable releases of 2017.