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Tord Gustavsen — What Was Said (29.01.2016)

Tord Gustavsen — What Was Said (29.01.2016)

        Tord Gustavsen — What Was Said (29.01.2016)  Tord Gustavsen — What Was Said (29.01.2016)Location: Cologne, Germany
Album release: January 29, 2016
Record Label: ECM
Duration:     59:55
Tracks:
01. YOUR GRIEF (Tord Gustavsen)     2:46
02. I SEE YOU (Norwegian Traditional)     5:10
03. IMAGINE THE FOG DISAPPEARING (Mathilda Montgomery–Cederhielm)     6:23
04. A CASTLE IN HEAVEN (Norwegian Traditional)     4:46
05. JOURNEY OF LIFE (Norwegian Traditional)     7:26
06. I REFUSE (Tord Gustavsen)     5:42
07. WHAT WAS SAID TO THE ROSE — O SACRED HEAD (Tord Gustavsen, Hans Leo Hassler)     5:36
08. THE WAY YOU PLAY MY HEART (Tord Gustavsen)     3:04
09. RULL (Tord Gustavsen)     3:08
10. THE SOURCE OF NOW (Tord Gustavsen)     4:26
11. SWEET MELTING (DUO) (Norwegian Traditional)     3:23
12. LONGING TO PRAISE THEE (Norwegian Traditional)     4:26
13. SWEET MELTING AFTERGLOW (Tord Gustavsen, Simin Tander, Jarle Vespestad, Norwegian Traditional)     3:39
Personnel:
♣   Tord Gustavsen   Piano, Electronics, Synth Bass
♣   Simin Tander   Voice
♣   Jarle Vespestad   Drums♠   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. The trio takes its programme of “hymns and visions” to the concert halls and clubs of Europe in the first months of 2016.
♣   What was said was recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in April 2015 and produced by Manfred Eicher.BACKGROUND
♣   Tord Gustavsen’s new trio project builds upon the subtle understanding of his long musical association with drummer Jarle Vespestad, introduces the entrancing German–Afghan vocalist Simin Tander, and, alongside new compositions and improvisations, explores the tradition of Norwegian church music in an untraditional manner. “Simin and I have been working with an Afghan poet,” Gustavsen explains, “translating and shaping a selection of hymns that I grew up with in Norway into Pashto.”
Born in Cologne to an Afghan journalist father and a German teacher, Simin Tander has been attracting attention on the European jazz scene, with innovative performances which find her moving between English and Pashto and invented languages of her own. Gustavsen: “I liked the sound of the Pashto language itself and coincidentally was encountering it at a time when I was becoming increasingly interested in Sufi poetry.”
♣   So Tander also sings — in English — the revelatory lyrics of Jalal al–Din Rumi (1207 — 73). Gustavsen sets the Rumi renderings of Coleman Barks, creative paraphrases in free verse which make the great poet of Konya seem like a literary ancestor to Walt Whitman. The lyrical reach of the album is rounded out with a setting of a poem by US writer Kenneth Rexroth (1905 — 82), who also counted Rumi amongst a vast range of influences, and was himself a pioneer in delivering verse to the accompaniment of jazz improvisers. In the sources that Tord Gustavsen has intuitively brought together for his programme in What was said there are connections being made at a number of levels, as a sense of extended dialogue opens up, and poets talk to each other across the centuries…
♣   Outside the limits of language and as interplay of sounds, the combination of the intimacy of Tander’s voice, Gustavsen’s melodically inventive piano and discreet electronics, and Vespestad’s patient, textural drumming has an emotional persuasiveness of its own. “Of course to me it’s a dual intention. This is a devotional project, and the way in which the words transcend the boundaries between forms and traditions is important for me. But it’s also fully OK to approach it as a pure musical experience. The sounds have texture and content. For anyone who feels invited to dive deeper, the lyrics and translations are there, but this is not the kind of music where you have to read in order to listen.”
♣   In the trio, singer Simin Tander rises to the challenge, as Gustavsen says, of being “both a soloistic interpreter of melody and an ensemble member, singing accompanying motifs, and contributing to improvisations in which the three of us are equals in terms of sharing ideas. She has a unique way of improvising, finding sounds that really work, staying with them, developing them very gradually. She has a discipline that really appeals to me and Jarle.”
♣   Drummer Jarle Vespestad has been an important part of Tord’s music throughout his ECM history, and plays on all of his albums for the label. Over the last decade and more Jarle and Tord had occasionally played duo pieces as part of group performances as well as many piano and drum interludes. The extent of their resourcefulness was put to the test in 2014 when a Paris release concert for Extended Circle had to be played as a duo show after saxophonist Tore Brunborg and bassist Mats Eilertsen were stranded in Northern Norway by a plane cancellation. This was initially daunting since the concert was broadcast live on French radio: “We were really thrown into it, but it proved to be such a cool experience. It felt like there was a whole orchestra there. The context opened up the lower part of the drum kit in a new way. Jarle, with his extreme ability to be grounded, was really making all the dark sounds and textures of the drums shine. While we were playing I was thinking: ‘I want to do this on an album!’, because it was so rich.”
♣   In the last year and a half Tord Gustavsen — somewhat to his surprise — has expanded his own textural range with the addition of electronics, using a Moog system which allows him to trigger computer based sounds and samples from the acoustic piano. On some pieces, he also uses a bass synthesizer. Throughout the album electronics are frequently almost a subliminal presence, felt as much as heard, but new sound–colour hybrids blossom as Gustavsen combines, for instance “the warmth and the sustain of a synth pad with the minimalism of a single piano line in the top,” or casts a euphonic halo around a piece, deepening an atmosphere. Restraint has always been a hallmark of Tord’s acoustic piano playing and a similar rigour is applied in his use of electronics. “The acoustic piano is a universe of exploration, and I’ll never be through with that journey, but the electronics are speaking to me much more than I could have anticipated. In fact, using them has influenced the acoustic piano playing, too. It’s as if I’m approaching the piano from a slightly different angle now. This too has been very fruitful.”
♣   What was said was recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in April 2015, and produced by Manfred Eicher.
*
♣   The Gustavsen/Tander/Vespestad trio takes its music on an extensive tour in the first months of 2016, with concerts in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, the UK, the US and Canada. More details can be found at www.ecmrecords.com and http://www.tordgustavsen.com
PRESS REACTIONS:
♣   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 […] 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 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. — John Fordham, The Guardian
♣   Although instantly recognizable as a Tord Gustavsen album ‘What was said’ also represents something of a radical departure for the Norwegian. This is essentially a vocal record that contains more singing than any previous Gustavsen release and it also introduces an element of electronica to what has previously been an exclusively acoustic music. […] ‘What was said’ represents Gustavsen’s most personal and spiritual album to date, and in many respects it’s also his most ambitious. It’s further removed from conventional jazz than any of his previous albums and while it’s possible that the devotional nature of the project and the underlying air of religiosity may deter some listeners the undeniable beauty of the music should ensure that the majority of Gustavsen’s audience, a very sizeable one in jazz terms, will continue to walk with him on his continuing musical and spiritual journey. — Ian Mann, The Jazzmann
♣   Their method —  kind of Nordic meets Sufi — is initially puzzling but ultimately rewarding, with trad Norwegian hymns translated into the Afghan language of Pashto and sung with quiet intensity by Tander […] it all really takes off with the startingly beautiful ‘I Refuse’ halfway through. By then, you’re hooked. — Phil Johnson, Independent On Sunday
♣   Seit vielen Jahren ein Meister der Entschleunigung, bevorzugt der Norweger kleine Besetzungen, ausgehend vom klassischen Piano–Trio […] Auf ‚What Was Said‘ ersetzt nun die deutsch–afghanische Vokalistin Simin Tander den Bassisten Mats Eilertsen. ♣   Ihre zart gesponnenen Versgeflechte schweben auf einem majestätisch in sich ruhenden Fundament aus Gustavsens Klavierakkorden und dem dezenten, gleichwohl stabilen Rhythmusteppich von Schlagzeuger Jarle Vespestad. Einfach wunderschön ist das anzuhören. — Matthias Inhoffen, Stereoplay
♣   Ein Wunder an Ausdruckskraft und musikalischer Delikatessse. — Rolf Thomas, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
♣   Was sich liest wie ein Gedankenkonstrukt, das in der Realität Gefahr läuft zu scheitern, entfaltet eine musikalische Atmosphäre, der man sich nur schwer entziehen kann. Simin Tanders Stimme besitzt ein Timbre wie geschaffen für die kehligen Pashto–Laute. Gemeinsam mit Gustavsen und Vespestad bildet sie ein Trio, das trotz über weite Strecken großer Zurückhaltung ein Höchstmaß an Intensität erreicht. — Thomas Loewner, SWR 2 (Website: http://www.simintander.com/)_____________________________________________________________

Tord Gustavsen — What Was Said (29.01.2016)

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