The Jazzcat

The TORD GUSTAVSEN ENSEMBLE Performce at the Skirball Cultural Center

by on Mar.24, 2011, under News


It has been quite some time since I have had the opportunity to visit the Skirball Cultural Center for a lovely performance, much too long. Yatrika Shah-Rais, themusic director at the Skirball as well as radio program host at 90.7 KPFK, hasalways had the knowledge and sensibilities for exquisite sound in music andbooking the Tord Gustavsen Ensemble is no exception.


Quite often I think about how American jazz influences and effects the lives of other countries and how that sound gets transformed and comes back to affect our lives. Of course when we travel overseas to perform we expect to be greeted with great success and appreciation for the time, honor and dedication American musicians put into the music.  What do Europeans think? Are they given the same opportunity to unleash their creative forays into the music here in the states? In the case of the Tord Gustavsen Ensemble, the answer is yes!


The music is so mellow and melodic in a very cognitive spacious sense. ECM Records have always had artists on their label that tend to lean to the peaceful side of the music. In this case, peace and spirit are not the only elements that make this music wonderful. There is a conscious sense of thought in the phrasing that goes off the beat and path of melody without being on the edge. I like my music thought provoking and edgy usually gives me my fill because melody is so predictable. However, Tord along with Mats Eilertsen on bass and Jarle Vesesdat on drums play with this translucent touch and each tone seems to rise with clarity into the stratosphere.  The forth member of the ensemble is silence. The space is used to surround the sound and protect the note as the amplitude rises to normal and a few clicks below. Yes, the audience is listening, and the music encapsulates the room with the slow, fulfilling warmth.


Each piece is a story that takes its time to be told. We sit here as eager children on the lap of our elders while being soothed and consciously comforted by the whispers of sounds that are not boisterous, but caressing, interesting and captivating. Mats makes use of his bow and with the lightest touch on the strings, we sense gentle, opaque refractions of classical in the midst of the structure of the jazz. I did not get a sense of improvisation nor did I encounter any cliché’ quotations, simply honesty in the strength of original music.


As a man in a film walks alone and contemplates decisions that will greatly affect his life, so goes the music; a virtual series of short stories that sonically begin and leave you with a solution or your own conclusion.  You don’t have to hit hard to have your swing the soul in the music. Oslo Norway has put a pin on map in the US!


LeRoy Downs




Leave a Reply

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...