on 5 February 2012
More than an insignificant number of jazz aficionados have or have had a deep-felt antipathy towards Gustavsen for making music too perfect to be considered jazz. More fools them. Gustavsen's debut "Changing Places" was perfect - simple, profound, immediately recognisable, "the Ground" a more than worthy follow up but "Being There" (for all its excellence) saw Gustavsen at an impasse which broken, for better or worse by the release of the ambitious but flawed "Restored, Returned" by a quintet featuring the divisive vocals of Kristin Asbjørnsen.
"The Well" sees, for the first time, ECM showcase the Gustavsen Quartet, Asbjørnsen departed while saxophonist Tore Brunborg remains.
Opening "Prelude" is as bewitching as anything by Gustavsen - slow, suggestive but delicate and this sets the tone for the remainder of the album. Songs showcased in expanded form in concert over the last year or so now appear fully formed and focussed; none more so than title track "The Well" which epitomises Gustavsen's remarkable ability to create so much from so little - a flicker of cymbal, beguilingly simple piano line, understated and unshowy sax and, anchoring everything, stately bass.
While some might yearn for something more radical, I suspect Gustavsen has won back a number who expressed doubt after "Restored, Returned" and, hopefully, ever increasing numbers will appreciate a recording whose beauty is likely to be a barometer for much of 2012.
on 24 March 2012
I'm relieved to discover that I am not alone in being disappointed in Restored, Returned, in which the vocals were a subtraction from the instrumental purity of the TG ensemble. The Well is truly a return to form, with the subtlety and intelligence that is a mark of a fine chamber ensemble, be it classical or jazz. The Well is a recording to savour -- and celebrate.
on 4 February 2012
This is going to be a good year for jazz,already we have seen excellent outings for Andy shepperd.The Portico quartet and now the latest offering from Tord Gustavsen.
This album is everything,and more that you can expect from the TGQ.It is stately,it is majestic,it is sublime,it is very melodic.
The roots of this album were started in 2009 and in the three years that have elapsed since then it has grown from an enigmatic pupae,into a beautiful butterfly.
There is not one note that seems out of place in this music at all,the tunes intertwine with each other and create a soundscape that is wonderous to hear.
The title track is absolutely beautiful,with exceptional playing from all.
Another great album for your consideration!!!
TORE BRUNBORG.....TENOR SAXAPHONE
MATS EILERTSEN.....DOUBLE BASS
on 1 November 2012
This record would be the perfect background music for the most sophisticated dinner party of all time, but it deserves better than that. This is what ECM has always done best; beautifully recorded flowing ensemble jazz. And unlike many contemporaries there are solid compositional foundations underpinning the quite lovely edifice. Great music that only gets better on further listening.
on 24 June 2013
Live or on record, Tord Gustavsen's various ensembles are about as cool as it gets. There's no fuss, no obvious look-what-arpeggios-I-learned technical display; the 'Nordic Sound' is tinged in this case by chords with echoes of gospel, or South African a capella traditions. The players (Gustavsen, piano; Mats Ellertsen, bass, Jarle Vestespad, drums and Tore Brunborg, tenor sax) go about their business unhurriedly and often understatedly, with easy and skilful mutual communication.
The result is often sublime. But (or should that be 'and') the quiet intensity might be mistaken for quietness pure and simple, and call to mind that most awful gebrauchsmusik category, 'dinner jazz'. Music to talk over it ain't - so listen to it, and you'll be amply rewarded.