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Over the past five years, bassist Eivind Opsvik has gained a considerable reputation around New York as a strong, resourceful jazz bassist. He's been tapped by the likes of Tony Malaby, Paul Motian and Kris Davis for their groups. His own ensemble Overseas (currently Malaby, Kenny Wollesen and Jacob Sacks), with three albums to date, has impressively shown his jazz credentials as an instrumentalist, composer and arranger. He's a player who's comfortable with all of the post-John Coltrane/Ornette Coleman permutations of improvised music. But he also crosses the stream into rock(ish) territory in his duo with guitarist Aaron Jennings. Their first release focused on mostly electronics while the second added more acoustic instruments to their brew. With A Dream I Used To Remember, electronics and programming take a back seat as a wide array of acoustic instruments come to the fore.
The material on A Dream I Used to Remember contains a strong melodic streak. Grand melodies emerge from simple two-note figures; a little fillip will pass by almost unnoticed then become the main melody. The tracks are dense and filled with all sorts of surprises. Occasionally, a sweet heavenly choir appears from out of nowhere then slips back into the ether. A brass band provides decoration on "Another Lane Parade" and is part of a choir on "September And Starry Eyed." Instruments such as pump organ, banjo, steel guitar and various odd sounding keyboards have a prominent role in the fabric of this music.
Electronics still play a role, though, as the title track is made up of loops, crackly static and a tinkling music box that illustrates the dream state beautifully. The sound is sculpted from track to track but these ten pieces make a cohesive whole. Opsvik & Jennings are clearly skilled arrangers and instrumentalists, regardless of the style of music in which they are working.
Track Listing: A Dream I Used To Remember; Canada; Swimming Back Into The Picture; Anchor Lane Parade; Windswept; Steam And Bells; Sleepy Rush; The Good Eye; September And Starry Eyed; Sunroad.
Personnel: Eivind Opsvik: bass, electric bass, drums, percussion, lap steel guitar, piano, pump organ, keyboards, glass, vocals, software; Aaron Jennings: guitars, acoustic guitars, banjo, vocals, electronics, software; Nova Chamber Choir: vocals; Brian Dye: trombone; Rich Johnson: trumpet; Rob Jost: french horn; R.J. Miller: drums; Peter Opsvik: flute; Michelle Arcila: vocals.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.