TORD GUSTAVSEN QUARTET, THE WELL

There’s a welcome artistic reinvention on Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen’s release, “The Well,” and that’s good news because his current group, which includes the neo-Gabarek saxophonist Tore Brunborg, is more refined and plays with greater common purpose since their last outing, “Returned, Restored,” a fine album that mixed things up with a vocalist. Here, Gustavsen focuses on the music, reconnecting with his compositional confidence on a warmer-than-usual album that benefits enormously from the quartet’s looseness and grounded interplay. Most of the tunes hover around the 4-5 minute mark, which makes for some concise but penetrating solos, especially on the album’s centerpiece, “Circling,” a blues-shaded track with a gospel heritage where Gustavsen’s Evans-like playing has a satisfying rightness. Drummer Jarle Vespestad maintains some nicely patterned grooves (“Playing” and “Suite”) and bassist Mats Eilertsen has a deep, resonant tone that underscores the richness of the leader’s music. Naturally, the ECM recording is flawless and a carefully designed listening experience from the eloquent pitch of “Prelude” to the mallets on cymbals that draws down the closing track (“Inside”) much like the sun setting on the horizon in winter. (11 tracks; 53:19 minutes)  photo by Javimar Noa

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JAZZ IN SPACE: TORD GUSTAVSEN QUARTET, THE WELL

Friday, February 24, 2012

TORD GUSTAVSEN QUARTET, THE WELL

There’s a welcome artistic reinvention on Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen’s release, “The Well,” and that’s good news because his current group, which includes the neo-Gabarek saxophonist Tore Brunborg, is more refined and plays with greater common purpose since their last outing, “Returned, Restored,” a fine album that mixed things up with a vocalist. Here, Gustavsen focuses on the music, reconnecting with his compositional confidence on a warmer-than-usual album that benefits enormously from the quartet’s looseness and grounded interplay. Most of the tunes hover around the 4-5 minute mark, which makes for some concise but penetrating solos, especially on the album’s centerpiece, “Circling,” a blues-shaded track with a gospel heritage where Gustavsen’s Evans-like playing has a satisfying rightness. Drummer Jarle Vespestad maintains some nicely patterned grooves (“Playing” and “Suite”) and bassist Mats Eilertsen has a deep, resonant tone that underscores the richness of the leader’s music. Naturally, the ECM recording is flawless and a carefully designed listening experience from the eloquent pitch of “Prelude” to the mallets on cymbals that draws down the closing track (“Inside”) much like the sun setting on the horizon in winter. (11 tracks; 53:19 minutes)  photo by Javimar Noa

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