Thursday, 22 October 2009
Tord Gustavsen Ensemble
Just got back from another cracking evening at the RNCM. The Tord Gustavsen ensemble were truly superb.
Tore Brunborg on Tenor and Soprano saxophones ran the full gamut of his horns from a smoky subtone that was little more than musical breathing through the kind of plaintive keening that slices into you, to a beautiful, crystal-clear top register. Jarle Vespestad on drums was subtle and inventive, playing with the kind of musicality that goes way beyond mere rhythm. (I’m sure that Mats Eilertsen was also top notch but I must confess to finding it hard to get excited about the bass. Sorry.) The real hi-light though was Gustavsen on piano.
The elfin Norwegian seemed organically melded to his Steinway, by turns stabbing away a la Thelonius Monk and then deftly easing, coaxing, conjouring sublime beauty from his instrument. Melodic and mesmerising. Bleakly beautiful like a Scandinavian snowscape.
It’s testimony to just how good Gustavsen was that (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) I think I would rather have the trio than the quartet, yes it would have been even better without the sax. Saxophones have a way of taking centre stage, demanding that you pay them attention. This meant that Gustavsen himself didn’t feature quite so prominently as I would have liked. That’s not a criticism, it’s just about he highest compliment I can pay. If you get the chance check him out for yourself.