Tord Gustavsen Ensemble at Royal Northern College of Music
Although the ensemble was missing the vocal talents of Kristin Asbjørnsen, a major fixture on Restored, Returned (2009, ECM), her absence in no way detracted from the quartets sound and revealed the brilliant, balanced interplay between each of the members that would not have been heard otherwise. Each composition was marked with a slow burning intensity that simmered but never came close to boiling; instead each melodic component was investigated with restraint, meditation and curiosity to reveal each compositions maximum potential. This was particularly true of the older material like "Being There" and closer "Draw Near," revitalized in the new quartet setting due to more improvisatory opportunities.
The sound at the RNCM was stellar. Every subtlety, and Gustavsen's music is subtle indeed, was voiced with the clarity of an ECM production and swallowed the room. But what made this such an amazing show was the breathtaking synergy of the quartet and the strength of emotions shown by each member, their inventiveness in expressing them. That, and the sheer beauty of Tord Gustavsen's songs.
Personnel: Tord Gustavsen: Piano; Tore Brunborg: Tenor and Soprano Saxophones; Mats Eilertsen: Double Bass; Jarle Vespestad: Drums and Percussion