With Simin Tander (vocals), Jarle Vespestad (drums) and Tord (piano / electronics).
What was said brings new colours to Tord Gustavsen’s musical palette. His latest trio project builds upon the subtle understanding of his long musical association with drummer Jarle Vespestad, introduces German-Afghan vocalist Simin Tander, and explores the tradition of Norwegian church music in untraditional ways: “For the repertoire of the new project, Simin and I have been working with Afghan poet B. Hamsaaya, translating and shaping a selection of hymns that I grew up with in Norway into Pashto,” Gustavsen explains.
“This process has been challenging and really fruitful. We have gone quite far in interpreting the lyrics in a more ‘integral’ manner, reaching into a space where I feel that Sufism and Christianity actually meet.” Simin Tander also sings, in English, verse of Persian mystic Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207-73) and US proto-Beat poet Kenneth Rexroth (1905-82). As a pure play of sounds, too, the combination of Tander’s voice and Gustavsen’s piano and discreet electronics has an emotional persuasiveness of its own, outside the limits of language.
Guardian review by John Fordham
Tord Gustavsen, the lyrical and scholarly Oslo-born pianist, got big with a blend of pensive improv and Norwegian hymns, but lately he has moved closer to jazz. This album, however, finds him returning to simple songs with religious roots, and to collaboration with a remarkable singer (he has previously worked with compatriots Solveig Slettahjell and Silje Nergaard) in the tender-toned German-Afghan Simin Tander.
Tander sings Norwegian traditionals and hymns in Pashto, and Beat icon Kenneth Rexroth’s stark renewal poem I Refuse and Persian sufi mystic Rumi’s writings in English, while Gustavsen gradually adds melodic embroidery, glimpsed grooves and electronics, with Jarle Vespestad’s fragile percussion the only other instrumental sound.
The set occasionally suggests an early Gustavsen band spliced with Susannah and the Magical Orchestra, and the mixture of the instrumentalists’ distilled reflections with Tander’s palette of hummed tones, sighing note-bends and pristine inflections represents a beguiling new Gustavsen collaboration.
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