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Jostein Gulbrandsen: Looking Ahead

Tyran Grillo By

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Norwegian-born, New York-based guitarist Jostein Gulbrandsen makes a modest splash with this set of eight originals. The composing is in-the-tradition and buoyant throughout, and harnesses the abilities of an enviable band. Bassist Mike McGuirk exudes plenty of sunshine in opener "Gee Wheez," revealing a carefree undercurrent that infuses the entire session. Drummer Mark Ferber catches his own share of spotlight in the title track, across which the bandleader links one thoughtful note after another. Although perhaps ironic given the sentiment, a nostalgic feeling prevails, as also in "Psalm." This is another chambered nautilus for McGuirk's painterly soloing, even as Gulbrandsen and pianist Megumi Yonezawa intertwine with the unforced unity of primary colors forming secondary blends. Yonezawa enchants further in "Unbroken Circles," ending the album's first half in a spirited dance. In tandem with Gulbrandsen's itinerant arcs, her points and lines speak to the heart.

"Cold Times" begins the second half with a mid-tempo blues which, like "Monkey Biz" two tracks later, finds the band serving a holistic meal. The "New Tune" that follows is emblematic of the delicacy this quartet can achieve, due in no small part to Yonezawa's precisely translated impulses and Ferber's skipping snare. "Another Waltz," in both name and mood, recalls latter-day John Abercrombie and finishes out the album with future assurance, again foregrounding the dialogs between guitar and piano on which this CD rests its soul. It's a quiet anthem for a noisy world, one that folds itself like a treasured article of clothing to be tucked away for a special occasion.

Track Listing: Gee Wheez; Looking Ahead; Psalm; Unbroken Circles; Cold Times; New Tune; Monkey Biz; Another Waltz.

Personnel: Jostein Gulbrandsen: guitar; Megumi Yonezawa: piano; Mike McGuirk: bass; Mark Ferber: drums.

Title: Looking Ahead | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Curling Legs

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