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Monday, April 28, 2008

Eivind Opsvik - Overseas III (Loyal Label, 2008) ****

When I heard Norwegian bass-player Eivind Opsvik's first "Overseas" CD in 2003, I immediately fell for it, because of its highly unusual style, which he managed to expand on "Overseas II" and now even further on "Overseas III". This is definitely not free jazz, but modern free-spirited jazz, with influences from rock music and country. Opsvik's compositions bring gentle, unhurried low-tempo, low-density, high intensity jazz, without complexity or pretense, carefully orchestrated with lots of attention to overall sound and mood. The band consists of Jacob Sacks on keyboards, Tony Malaby on tenor, Kenny Wollesen on drums and percussion, Larry Campbell on pedal steel guitar, Jeff Davis on vibes and Eivind Opsvik on bass. All musicians are excellent of course, and perfectly manage to catch Opsvik's musical concept. The second track, "Everseas", is exemplary, as slow as it can get, with Malaby's sax more whispering than producing sound, supported by monotone moody organ and electric piano, and with the arco bass playing like slowly rolling waves on a windless sea. Sure, this is progressive music, but with a sentimentality that is rare in the genre, an emotional honesty that is genuine and authentic and which transpires through every note being played. The long last track illustrates this well, starting with a long and slow almost modern cool jazz intro, then shifting in the middle to single-toned arco bass drone, single notes on the piano, and echo from the organ, with dark and rumbling percussion on the background, and the gentle piano tones suddenly create rhythm, followed by bass and drums, with Malaby's plaintive sax playing a sad beautiful melody with the pedal steel guitar in support. For those of us who enjoy soft and subtle creativity played by a band of great musicians. It is sweet, but with the deep taste of quality. Enjoy!

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