Tord Gustavsen - Restored, Returned
Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen has built a huge and enthusiastic
worldwide following through his ECM discs and touring, and 'Restored,
Returned' will broaden that popularity still further.
trilogy of trio recordings - 'Changing Places', 'The Ground', and
'Being There' - which explored a clearly-demarcated melodic terrain,
here is a strikingly different album from Tord Gustavsen at the head of
a reconfigured band.
Into the group come two Norwegian improvisers
familiar to ECM listeners, bassist Mats Eilertsen and saxophonist Tore
Brunborg. Inside the ensemble new aspects of interactive possibility
open up as duo, trio and quartet instrumental combinations explore the
space inside Tord's compositions - his gospel-inflected hymns and
lullabies and ballads and his pulsing, almost minimalistic grooves.
tracks include also the voice of Kristin Asbjørnsen. She wraps her
bluesy phrasing huskily around the poetry of WH Auden on "Lay Your
Sleeping Head, My Love", "Restored, Returned", "Wrapped in a Yielding
Air" and "O Stand, Stand At The Window", and vocalizes wordlessly on
three takes of Gustavsen's "Left Over Lullaby", threaded through the
album as a structural element.
Tord's 2004 'The Ground' reached
No 1 in the Norwegian pop charts, an unprecedented achievement for an
instrumental album ("This album will make your life better", promised
The Independent on Sunday). Being There was Album of the Year in Jazz
Review - indeed each of his previous recordings has topped jazz charts
around the world.
Tord Gustavsen (piano),
Kristin Asbjørnsen (vocals), Tore Brunborg (tenor and soprano
saxophones), Mats Eilertsen (double-bass), Jarle Vespestad (drums)
Tord Gustavsen's meditative but subtly gospel-tinged music has brought him a big following outside the jazz
loop: his 2003 album, Changing Places, was the biggest ECM debut in a
decade. The Norwegian pianist tours the UK for nine days from today,
and returns in November for the London jazz festival. Gustavsen's
earlier albums have been for a low-lights piano trio, but this is a
quartet set featuring the excellent Jan Garbarek-inspired saxophonist
Tore Brunborg, plus guest appearances from singer Kristin Asbjørnsen.
Brunborg, though wistfully Garbarek-like on soprano at the opening, is
rougher and less ethereal than his model - closer even to Wayne
Shorter's enigmatic jazziness on The Gaze. His powerful role makes
Gustavsen's piano mainly supportive until halfway through, when the
leader blossoms out on Left Over Lullaby No 1. Kristin Asbjørnsen's
voice - banshee-like on high notes, but as raspingly bluesy as Carol
Grimes on occasion - is always arresting, whether on free improv,
floating lullabies or incantations of WH Auden poems. For those who
felt Gustavsen's work was a bit pallid, here's the remedy.