Home » Jazz Musicians » Eivind Opsvik

Eivind Opsvik

Born in Oslo, bassist and composer Eivind Opsvik was introduced to music at home. His father loved to play the saxophone and constantly spun records—everything from Ornette Coleman to Billie Holiday and The Beatles. An early memory features Eivind on drums, jamming out “A Hard Day’s Night” with his father. Later, a denim-clad rocker cousin lent him a bass guitar and the newfound ability of adding pitch to rhythm was a revelation. Opsvik spent the rest of his teens getting to know this instrument, as well as the double bass, while also experimenting with a 4-track tape recorder and pouring music into his head.

At the age of twenty, Opsvik began studies at the Norwegian Academy of Music, focusing on classical bass. By then, he was already an active participant in Oslo’s vibrant jazz scene, regularly playing with musicians like Paal Nilssen-Love, Christian Wallumrød, Bjørnar Andresen, and Håkon Kornstad; while also performing at festivals and clubs around Europe.

In 1998, Opsvik relocated to New York City, where he has thrived as a working musician, collaborating on projects with among others Anthony Braxton, Paul Motian, John Zorn, Nate Wooley, and Bill Frisell and performing in a wide range of venues like Carnegie Hall, Village Vanguard, Le Poisson Rouge and The Stone. At the Manhattan School of Music he studied jazz and met some of his closest musical brothers, including Loren Stillman, Jeff Davis, and Jacob Sacks. Building on the bonds and shared musical understanding that developed while at school, Eivind invited these players to help him fulfill his vision for the solo project, Overseas.

Opsvik has stated that "overseas" is a fitting way of describing his life—whether in New York or Norway, he is always an ocean’s distance from home. As he continued his journey through the city via late night gigs and daytime sessions, Opsvik connected with other players—visionaries versed in noise improv, electronic, jazz, and classical—who, on subsequent Overseas records, were brought in to augment the lineup. Since 2005, the band has remained consistent, featuring Tony Malaby, Jacob Sacks, and Kenny Wollesen; in 2010, guitarist Brandon Seabrook also became a regular member. Over the years, they have played countless shows around New York City, as well as extensively toured Europe and the American east coast.

In addition to five Overseas albums and his extensive session work, Opsvik’s discography also includes four experimental chamber-pop records made in collaboration with songwriter Aaron Jennings (under the moniker of Opsvik & Jennings) and a multimedia project with photographer Michelle Arcila, which pairs tens songs with ten photographic prints. This project, titled A Thousand Ancestors, came out of Opsvik’s solo double bass performances, which sometimes featured projections of Arcila’s photographs. In recording these bass-centric pieces, he would layer bass with subtle overdubs of lap steel guitar, vintage keyboards, and drum machines, with Arcila’s prints displayed around the studio. The project proved to be an auspicious collaboration for the couple, who, as The New York Times put it, “share an aesthetic of haunting introspection, and the desire to seek out beauty in austerity.”

Read more

Tags

Radio & Podcasts
Album Review
Take Five With...
Live Review
Extended Analysis
Album Review
Read more articles
"Norwegian bassist Eivind Opsvik made the most imaginative album trilogy of 2005." —Nate Chinen, JazzTimes, April 2006

"Eivind Opsvik has an unusual gift for writing small, poignant pieces of music. The color and mood of his music, along with its rhythmic patterns, bleed over into pop, and the sound has a sheer, weightless quality." —Ben Ratliff , New York Times, January 2003

"Opsvik's own bass has an aching sound, with his lines plumbing the depths to find almost folk-song-like melodies." —David Dupont, All Music Guide

Ben Bryden
saxophone

Photos

Album Discography

Videos

Similar

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.