Swedish pianist Jacob Karlzon and Norwegian/Scottish guitarist Haftor Medboe, a music lecturer at Napier, met at a music festival on Islay in the early 2000s and decided then that they should work on a project together but it took 15 years to come to fruition.
Thank goodness it has. This gig on the final evening of what was another excellent and diverse Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, proved an absolute delight, the pair complementing and supporting each other in a masterclass of silky, hypnotic joy.
The melodies they conjure are breathtaking things of exquisite, beguiling majesty. While the interplay between the two suggests a chemistry crafted from decades of playing together this was only their third gig.
It doesn’t seem right somehow, that such beauty can be created right before your eyes. Yet there was also a tangible energy that was uplifting and exciting.
The hour or so of music largely came from the duo’s recently released, eponymously-titled and self-written four-track EP. Waiting and Tranquil were particular highlights, showcasing some lovely, lilting playing, both in solo and communal settings.
The musicianship was often absolutely sublime. Karlzon, clearly reveling in his role, teased out a stream of intricate, richly layered, often jaunty ideas, into the mix with all the heft of the seasoned professional he is, while Medboe contributed his own deft, mercurial touch to the mélange. Seldom have guitar and piano been in such harmony, bringing to mind the great Metheny / Mays partnership.
Guest vocalist Jessie Bates added another dimension to the direction of the music, whilst helping to define, in words, what this gig was all about, with an utterly sumptuous, stunning rendering of another original piece, Happiness Shines.
It was a privilege to be in the intimate, yet packed Teviot Row venue – and it’s to be hoped that it won’t take another 15 years before we get to hear more of this gorgeous music.
By Allan Boughey