Eivind Opsvik: Overseas (2003)
Considering its rotating cast of characters, the music on Eivind Opsvik's Overseas has a surprising consistency. The leader's bass is a helpful anchor thoughout the disc. Aside from Opsvik, though, are nine musicians who spread their talents across a variety of subgroupings, many which have been known to create all kinds of sounds. Perhaps best known for this is Craig Taborn, whose body of work on the piano, Fender Rhodes and organ ranges from colorful handfuls to impromptu freakouts. Here he is tame, even during the disc's rare atonal passages. Gerald Cleaver, as well, stays away from the more disorienting drum beats and instead favors loose but pocket-driven meters.
The limited range here from a normally rowdy bunch of musicians, however, should not be interpreted as sameness. The disc varies both dynamically and melodically. Sometimes the music is low-key funk, as on "Foxtrot," where an open-ended repetition on Wells Hanley's Fender Rhodes creates the illusion of an ever rising foundation, which is then tempered by Jeff Davis' restraint on the drums. Sometimes the musicians sit quietly behind Opsvik, like on his sensuous ballad, "Earthly," followed immediately by "Hertzian Waves," an exploration of space of sorts, complete with blips and pings from Taborn on the Hammond C3 organ.
Ultimately, the musicians take their lead from Opsvik, not their own egosnor, as one might suspect at times, from their own musical instincts. Tony Malaby plays a calm tenor saxophone, and Jacob Sacks only fits in chords on the piano where Opsvik leaves him space. So Overseas winds up with great consistency, highlighted by a very steady tempo. But this is Opsvik's consistency all the way.
Note: this review originally appeared in All About Jazz: New York .
Track Listing: 1. Foxtrot 2. Redford 3. Punchball 4. Ivandovich 5. Italian Movie Theme 6. Twelve Days 7. Quickstep 8. Earthly 9. Hertzian Waves 10. Indian Summer 11. Prelude 12. Overseas
Personnel: Eivind Opsvik (b), Tony Malaby (ts), Loren Stillman (as), Jason Rigby (ss,bcl), Jacob Sacks (p), Craig Taborn (hammond C3 org), Wells Hanley (fender rh), Gerald Cleaver (d), Jeff Davies (d), Dan Weiss (perc)