Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity: Elastic Wave


Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity: Elastic Wave


Sign in to view read count
Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity: Elastic Wave
The last time we heard from Norwegian drummer Gard Nilssen as a leader was with his Supersonic Orchestra—a three-drummer, three-bassist behemoth whose 2020 album, If You Listen Carefully The Music Is Yours (Odin), proved that, contrary to the precedent set by Stan Kenton, it is possible to assemble a big band packing Death Star-level ordnance which nevertheless allows for subtlety, agility and humanity.

Extraordinarily prolific, Nilssen has since 2007 recorded over seventy albums, a fair few of them as leader or co-leader. A handful have been made with big bands: three with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, one with Zanussi Thirteen, one with Supersonic. But mostly, Nilssen has recorded with small groups, such as his trios Bushman's Revenge, Amgala Temple and Acoustic Unity.

Nilssen formed Acoustic Unity with fellow Norwegian, reed player Andre Roligheten and Swedish bassist Petter Eldh in 2014, and the group debuted the following year with Firehouse (Clean Feed). Its third album, To Whom Who Buys A Record (Odin), was released to international acclaim in 2019.

The pandemic seems scarcely to have caused Nilssen to skip a beat and in summer 2022 he returns with Acoustic Unity's fourth album, Elastic Wave, recorded in 2021. The founding lineup, all of whom were part of the aforementioned If You Listen Carefully The Music Is Yours, which Nilssen composed and arranged in partnership with Roligheten, still stands. And what a joy it continues to be. All three members compose, and the all-originals Elastic Wave moves seamlessly between pastoral, vaguely folkloric material, jumpy free-improv, ruminative balladeering, and tenor saxophone-led romping which evokes memories of Sonny Rollins' late-1950s' trios.

Roligheten, with whom the force most certainly also resides, is mainly heard on tenor, but also plays soprano and bass saxophones and clarinet, and, on one track, tenor and soprano simultaneously in the manner of Rahsaan Roland Kirk. It all stacks up to a great album.

Track Listing

Altaret; Spending Time With Ludvig; Dreignau; Influx Delight; Lokket til Jon, og skjerfet til Paul; The Other Village; Boogie; Cercle 85; Acoustic Dance Music; Til Liv; The Room Next To Her.


Andre Roligheten
saxophone, tenor
Additional Instrumentation

André Roligheten: tenor, soprano and bass saxophones, clarinet.

Album information

Title: Elastic Wave | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: ECM Records



For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.


For Real!
Hampton Hawes
The Bobby Broom Organi-Sation
David Bixler


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.