Karja | Renard | Wandinger Caught In My Own Trap

BMCCD328 2024

Presenting the unconventional music of a conventional line-up, Caught in My Own Trap features three musicians from three different countries, enchanting contemporary jazz fans with tracks ranging from the most abstract avant-garde musical structures to the most sensual beauty.
The members of the trio were brought together by the Estonian pianist-composer Kirke Karja, her fellow musicians are the French double bassist Étienne Renard and the Berlin drummer Ludwig Wandinger. In 2021 they played at the Europe Jazz Network conference, and in 2023 they also had the opportunity to perform at the prestigious jazzahead! showcase in Bremen.
The backbone of their second album is again Kirke Karja's compositions, often with strong contemporary influences and improvisations. Behind the tight editing, there are often extreme emotions, and usually, a huge energy charge fuels the richly coloured compositions, which are quite different in character.
Kirke Karja, winner of the Estonian Young Jazz Talent Award in 2014, has toured Europe since the 2010s as leader of her quartet, the Pae Kollektiv, Heliotrope, and Captain Kirke. In addition to a wide range of collaborations, she expresses her keen interest in classical and contemporary music in solo recitals, plays works by 20th- and 21st-century composers, and composes chamber and orchestral pieces.
As young as he is, Étienne Renard has quickly become an indispensable member of the Parisian scene, having scored his first major successes with the award-winning Thibault-Gomez Quintet, partnered Paul Jarrett on an album, and made his latest release with Benoît Delbecq's piano trio Triple Fever.
Ludwig Wandinger has been an accomplice of Jim Black, Wanja Slavin, Petter Eldh, Lucia Cadotsch, and Ken Vandermark on the drums. Still, he is also exploring the world of experimental electronics and making his mark as a visual artist and producer.


Kirke Karja – piano
Étienne Renard – double bass
Ludwig Wandinger – drums

About the album

Compositions by Kirke Karja except tracks 1, 2, 5, 10, 11 by Kirke Karja, Étienne Renard and
Ludwig Wandinger

Recorded by Siim Hiob at BMC Studio, Budapest on 19-20 March, 2023
Mixed and mastered by Siim Hiob

Artwork: Anna Natter / Cinniature

Produced by László Gőz
Label manager: Tamás Bognár

Supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia


Mario Borroni - CitizenJazz (fr)

John Sharpe - All About Jazz (en)

x - Donos kulturalny (Pl)

Olasz Sándor - riff.hu (hu)

3500 HUF 11 EUR

Karja | Renard | Wandinger: Caught In My Own Trap

01 Take My Tender Heart 5:16
02 Sweat 5:20
03 Seiklus 3:32
04 Foam 6:55
05 Soda 2:23
06 Margaret 5:31
07 Piano Interlude 4:20
08 Prelude 7:42
09 First Last Dance 3:22
10 Double Bass Interlude 4:39
11 Pollock 2:04
12 Runder Sadness 3:52
Total time 55:02

The album is available in digital form at our retail partners

Imagine a piano trio without an obvious traditional jazz vocabulary or influence. Imagine a trio that does not exist to offer easy sonic platitudes to please listeners yet captures and enthralls them. Imagine a trio that operates without a “safety net”, where their very nature appears to be about taking risks and chances but in reality this is far from the truth; they are simply expressing and playing music together as they hear it. Welcome listeners, you’re holding that album.

Pianist/composer Kirke Karja, featuring acoustic bassist Etienne Renard and drummer/ percussionist Ludwig Wandinger. This trio started in February 2020 in Tallinn, Estonia where Kirke had the plan to play one concert and record their debut a lbum “The Wrong Needle”. Their next performance was in September 2021 at the European Jazz Network Conference. Kirke: “We had two serious rehearsal days and I remember that after our set my forearms were sore, on the stage we were not kind to our bodies at all. This was the start for our trio’s concert life, we got lots of invitations”. Witnessing this  performance, those invitations make perfect sense.

This trio plays with limitless urgency. They play with a subtle and intense fire that can sustain and simmer, or beautifully and slowly explode. Kirke and Etienne had been playing together since 2018, and her chance discovery of Ludwig at a random concert in Berlin cemented the idea for this particular trio. Kirke: “What is really cool about working with Ludwig and Etienne is that they always have ideas how to shape this music. Usually when I bring new compositions they are full of ideas on “how” to treat this material”.

This is the way the new generation functions; it’s all about giving what’s best for the music, giving what’s best for the collective process, and always giving 100%. Ludwig has been quoted in interviews saying that “this trio reacts to each other quite a lot” and that he “never has the feeling his input doesn’t mean anything.” Kirke recalls a conversation with Etienne: “He said that one bass line is VERY difficult. I answered that we can simplify this, transpose something, or skip few notes. Etienne replied: I would rather die than cheat!”

This is a signature piano trio. Their approach to improvisation and Kirke’s compositions define a new and unique space for this ancient trio instrumentation. It sounds like a band first and foremost, and as a listener, I find it impossibly easy to jump in to join their sound world. Hooked from the first listen, it was hard to listen again impartially and not listen as a fan of this trio. (Well there you have it, isn’t that the mark and point of a great band and album?)

First impressions listening…

Kirke has an amazing way to play rhythmically dense energy that still invokes space. Arpeggio runs appear and then vanish; large chords rise up ferociously to offer up a question or a si lence.

Ludwig’s touch and on-point rhythmic accuracy combined with his use of silence lets the music travel everywhere it needs to in the most colorful and physically impa ctful and engaging way.

Etienne all the while grounds and flows with ease between the tr io’s different structural terrains and emotional peaks and valleys, offering color and commentary from single notes to bowed frenzi es.

Track by track impressions… (hopefully you have already listened to this journey; don’t let me spoil it
for you.)

“Take My Tender Heart”… a meditation, an invitation, and slowly something ominous approaches, still inviting… Counterpoint and communication, space and statement… all very about this particular trio. 

Etienne and Ludwig converse out front of “Sweat” but soon Kirke enters with an intense message reframing the duo. Everybody holds on to tell their story, all the while sharing the details and silences between them building to natural climatic wave.

“Seiklus” is a beautiful stumbling melody, wide in range and scope with an inconsistent yet consistent beat underlying all the while, carving valleys and causing avalanches along the way.

The trio has a fantastic way of phrasing together in unison, on full display during the melody of “Foam.” Etienne weaves a beautiful solo over an attractive piano and drum chord sequence, amazingly tight and loose at the same time leaving space for the bass to speak. The final cascading melody sends the band off into the distance.

Visual and graphic is how “Soda” hit me, with the suspense built right into the composition. 

The vibe of “Margaret” reminds me of one of György Ligeti’s pieces for solo piano but way more funky and hitting yet at the same time rhythmically spacious. Followed by a bowed bass and piano duo, Ludwig enters imperceptibly to improvise a band build-up which finishes as dramatically as it does surprisingly.

“Piano Interlude” is yet another shining example of something ominous yet inviting and spacious, giving the listener time to interact and reflect with this thoughtful harmonic and melodic composition. 

Bass and piano unison suspenseful and fun; Enjoy! “Prelude” is a highlight for myself on this engaging listening experience.

A call to something… dodging, weaving, avoiding… interaction at its finest, “First Last Dance” invokes this sonic ballet with a strong resolution.

Appearing near the end of this albums’ grand arc, Etienne invokes a low-end call to meditative spaciousness. Soulful and considerate, his multi-stringed bowing weaves an interesting and mysterious tale.

One more call to arms, in “Pollock” the trio assemble and make their point, and scatter away just as fast.

Kirke sets up “Runder Sadness”… the actively atmospheric final song on the album. Ludwig enters with an almost gently stumbling waltz with attitude, again Etienne adds bowed notes to the affair, coalescing a conversation that ends this album all too quickly. 

(Simply play it from the top again to remedy this…)

Kirke: “We experimented with the music from our upcoming record in April 2023: we played it with a septet called Karja/Renard/Wandinger goes XL. We had also invited Sun-Mi Hong, Elias Stemeseder, Felix Henkelhausen and Verneri Pohjola – all of them are our friends and heroes in music and life. I hope that we can collaborate as a trio with other musicians and bands in future as well.” 
I’ll take that as a simple promise to make more fantastic music, Kirke.

Jim Black
October 18th, 2023