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Eivind Opsvik: Overseas II (2005)

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Eivind Opsvik: Overseas II How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Because of the instrumentation on Overseas II—specifically the lack of guitar—and because there is so much lyricism in Eivind Opsvik's music, one might hesitate to call it fusion. Yet on one hand, pronounced backbeats inevitably emerge out of the flying cross-rhythms set up by Opsvik's gigantic bass and the rest of the rhythm section. On the other, Opsvik's intricate and varied compositions are hardly the one-dimensional vamps that only too often characterize so much fusion. Opsvik writes very engaging compostions with considerable variety and harmonic interest, and the musicians here make the most of it.

Tony Malaby is certainly one of the most impressive of the younger saxophonists emerging today, and his appearance on Overseas II lifts it above the ordinary and makes it worth checking out. Time and again, Malaby plays with relentless invention, and he is especially compelling on "Planned Future" and "Tilt Of Timber." Although the other musicians play extremely well, this turns out to be Malaby's show to a large extent.

Opsvik himself is a sturdy, inventive bassist with a huge, woody tone and rock-solid time. His consistently probing lines are a major factor in the overall success of this music. Both Kenny Wolleson and Jeff Davis contribute driving and varied drum work, meshing beautifully with Opsvik.

Altoist Loren Stillman maintains the lyrical mood, particularly on "Tilt Of Timber." The keyboard players provide atmospheric comping, and on "Still The Tiger Town," Craig Taborn plays a whirling organ solo that is a highlight of the album. Another highlight is "Escapades," a feature for the leader's bass, in which his work is thoughtful, measured, and stately.

So maybe the ballads take Overseas II out of the realm of fusion. Much of today's most interesting and challenging music readily crosses genre boundaries. This album is no exception, and if you like Tony Malaby, you'll appreciate it, no question.

Track Listing: Planned Future; Maritime Safety; Peacetime; Craig Plays Celeste; Tilt Of Timber; Escapades; Still The Tiger Town; Stranded; Jacob Plays Celeste; Ah! Aground Again; Kapp Det Gode Hap.

Personnel: Eivind Opsvik: bass; Tony Malaby: tenor saxophone; Loren Stillman: alto saxophone; Jacob Sacks, Craig Taborn: keyboards; Kenny Wolleson, Jeff Davis: drums.

Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent

Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


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