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4.8 out of 5 stars20
4.8 out of 5 stars
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2014
I was fortunate enough to catch the band live at Manchester's RNCM the week this was released. He played most of the tracks live, and they lose none of the aching sensitivity and at times fragile dynamic that you will hear on this album. The rest of the band are from purely being there as a support. Tore brunborg ( arguably the no.1 call in this genre) has for me one of the worlds most pleasing sax tones! and his playing is impeccable here? this goes equally for the sensitive and elegant bass and drums of Mats Eilertson and Jarle Vespestad respectively. For those not familiar with Gustavsen's work; they will find melody, beauty and his uncanny knack of transporting you to places within your mind that will bring you true musical satisfaction. For those in the know....expect more of what you already knew! A truly beautiful album .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 April 2014
I bought this preparatory to going to see Tord in concert. This is a wonderfully lyrical minor key masterpiece. I hesitate to use the phrase melancholia but its sparse beauty and sound spaces coupled with Tord's pianistics which are delicate yet dynamic mean that the whole album builds to a climax leaving the listener with a profound feeling of catharsis. not for this group the all noiseand action mode of contemporary jazz , this is thoughtful, delightful music which rewards the listener with something new each time it's listened to.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 2014
I heard this group play recently in Edinburgh and, despite having been turned off modern jazz many years ago by the fact that too many groups just didn't seem to know what they were trying to do or where their music was trying to get to, I was bowled over by the quality of music produced. It is inventive, fresh, modern but would surely appeal to a very wide number of listeners. Additionally, for someone with hearing difficulties - it was quiet !!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 22 January 2014
Composer/pianist Norwegian Tord Gustavsen sees this album as the completion of a trilogy after 'Restored, Returned' in 2009 and 'The Well' in 2012. It is a logical progression from the latter carrying much of the choral and spiritual feel to this release. It is, simply put, a divine, ethereal statement from a collective quartet of musicians. Meditative and sombre with occasional bluesy numbers involving tenor saxophonist Toro Brunborg, the 12 numbers are graceful, subtle and elegant with what Gustavsen calls 'a structured sequence and thoroughly conceived transitions'. The album sounds like an extended suite from the opening trio piece, 'Right There', played with the pianist in mournful style, to the final track, also a trio 'The Prodigal Son'

There is not a dud on this recording that continues to astonish with the quality of the songs and playing with passion where the body and the sprit express themselves though their instruments. The hymn 'Eg Veit I Himmerick Ei Borg' (A Castle in Heaven) commences with up-tempo drumming from Vespestad behind meditative piano suddenly shaken by the entrance of Brunborg. The group composition 'The Entrance' is taken at a funereal pace opening with Brunborg's almost falsetto delivery. 'The Gift' is a wonderfully constructed piano showcase for Gustavsen who is outstanding throughout the album with his spare, tender playing, as well as composing all but two of the numbers. 'Staying There' is a vehicle for Brunborg to demonstrate his sax. blues skills. There is so much going on here. Eilertson's bass lines are strong throughout and highlighted by his short 'Bass Transition'. 'The Embrace' feels as if the quartet, with prominent saxophone, are trying to tell a story. Vespestad's drumming is always assured. The gospel, blues, spiritual, reflective and communal confidence runs throughout this wholly satisfying and magnificent album that is highly recommended and improves further after multiple plays. Needless to say the ECM production and sound are outstanding.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2014
Faultlessly executed meditative and bluesy music, satisfying in its mixture of plaintive, mellow, and soaring sax. A quiet joy. Warmly recommended.
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on 21 August 2015
I like this kind of cool jazz, although some people will say that it all follows a similar pattern. My only criticism of this CD, which apples to many music CDs, is that the total running time is a lot smaller than the capacity of a standard CD. I think that if you pay a good price then you should really get a good amount of music. That's it, my nag is over.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2014
Book-ended by hypnotic trio pieces joining pianist Gustavsen once more is the line-up from The Well: tenor saxophonist Tore Brunborg, bassist Mats Eilertsen, and drummer Jarle Vespestad. Opener ‘Right There’ takes you back to the atmosphere of The Ground when the late Harald Johnsen was in the band and the trio’s finest hour. That spooky super-emotive spiritual sound that only Gustavsen can produce hits you smack in the face; it’s all in the timing and Gustavsen’s manipulation of silence for dramatic effect is immediate. The Norwegian hymn ‘Eg Veit I Himmerik Ei Borg’ (‘I Know A Castle In Heaven’) might not quite have the drama of the opening piece, which is actually more hymn-like paradoxically, yet drummer Vespestad makes his presence felt here brilliantly, and Brunborg’s magisterial offerings resemble a stage actor limbering up for a crucial soliloquy. Brunborg is magnificent throughout, less Garbarek than on The Well more his own person while the suite-like ‘Entrance’ shows how the band can operate in a hugely stripped down setting, all difficult pauses and notes freighted with cool emotion while ‘The Gift’ allows Gustavsen to rhapsodise beautifully again, a veritable horse whisperer coaxing the humanity out of the perspiring body of the quartet. ‘Staying There’ opens out for Mats Eilertsen to sit behind Brunborg as the pulse of the quartet settles and Gustavsen channels the gospelly end of (unavoidably) Keith Jarrett’s approach. You might need some patience with ‘Silent Spaces’ although the process rewards very close listening, the softer the four play the more magical the effect. The folk-like fragmentary opening of ‘Entrance, var.’ is more of a surprise given what’s gone before; but ‘Devotion’ (an adaption of a piece from a commissioned work for the Nidaros Cathedral Choir) goes deeper still into the spiritual domain with a wonderfully poised Brunborg opening deep and slow Gustavsen tracking him relentlessly, never missing a pause or interfering with the character in Brunborg’s softly unfolding melodic progression. ‘The Embrace’ somehow manages to inject a naïve joy into the album at this late stage and that lightness of mood is needed. But ‘Bass Transition’ perhaps less essential; the invigorating ‘Glow’; and finally, magically, ‘The Prodigal Song’ then complete an album that the pianist sees as the last part of a “double circle” of trilogies and that has an inescapable grandeur to it. (Review from [...])
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 24 January 2014
Over a decade ago, when reviewing Gustavsen's debut, I expressed a hope for a long career on his part. Six albums of sustained excellence in, that hope has been rewarded. While I am partisan (my daughter was born to the sound of, appropriately enough, "Where Breathing Starts") "Extended Circle" is exquisite and as fine as anything Gustavsen has released since the inaugural "Changing Places". While some reviews have overplayed the change in feel, suffice to say that the album as a whole harks back to Gustavsen's trio origins (a number of the tracks do not feature Tore Brunborg's saxophone) while others definitely nod towards the future (including "Entrance" and the variation thereof where Brunborg's haunting saxophone against a barely sketched in background is reminiscent of early Garbarek).

Although Gustavsen's sound is, as ever, instantly recognisable, the balance between the musicians is ever present and Jarle Vespestad, a wonderfully sympathetic and assured percussionist, is given more freedom to express himself. "Staying There" is a paradigm example of the kinship and collective spirit of the musicians but my favourite is "Eg Veit I Himmerik Ei Borg", which creates a compelling tension as Gustavsen, bassist Eilertsen and, in due course, Brunborg stretch themselves over Vespestad's propulsive forays. The self explanatory "Bass Transition" is a 43 second solo by Eliertsen was an interesting conceit and, although it does little for the overall feel of the album, all can be forgiven.

In summation, not for the first time, Gustavsen has thrown down the gauntlet for other jazz musicians early in the year. If "Extended Circle" does draw the line on the second stage of his music, it has been an arc well worth following. Sublime.
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on 31 March 2015
Relaxing, contemplative music and possibly their best album. Hints of Ronnie Laws, Grover Washington and (the much-missed) EST, with the beautiful combination of sax, piano and bass.
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on 10 March 2014
This is such a beautiful cd that everyone should have a copy. It is simply stunning. It is calm and peaceful with simple and gently themes.
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