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Tore Brunborg & Jarle Vespestad: Orbit

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It’s a little different fro some duet records, and that’s a good thing. Rather than an endless cutting contest, Jarle Vespestad is clearly in the accompanist’s role, adding taps and shimers to Brunborg’s quiet musing. This is introspection, and you hear their thoughts as they take on standards in a non-standard way.

At the top is “Django”; Brunborg takes it slowly, stressing the sadness as it becomes a funeral march. Vespestad patters soft, brushes here, a shaker there, not following any discernable beat. Horn leads and Jarle follows, in steps small, quiet, and graceful.

The shakers click a little while after the tune ends, shifting abruptly to a cymbal-driven pulse. Brunborg plays “Eiderdown” faster than normal, and Vespestad responds with a quiet storm – it sounds like Sonny Rollins’ “Freedom Suite:, minus the bass. Tore’s tone, pure on soprano, is grainy on the tenor, the drums strengthening his sound. Jarle opens with polyrhythms – not quite Elvin Jones, but a hint of that style. Brunborg doesn’t try to “do” a Coltrane – his is the lament of ‘Django”, on a larger horn. He speeds a little near the end, but the mood is the same – plaintive and sad, with the simple beauty found all through the disc.

We next come to a block of originals. “Origo” begins with gong and rumbling tom-toms; Brunborg moans in multiphonics, then comes on with a strong presence. It sounds like a late-night stroll through the city, the echoey cymbals playing the footsteps. “Agnus Dei” (Lamb of God) has dubbed horns, as Brunborg plays a simple theme and answers himself on the other speaker – call and response. While right horn stays mellow, left horn is active and honks a little. A third horn whispers in the distance. While the theme remains simple, the choir of horns gives it force, and it becomes stately, proud, and beautiful – going up to heaven, as it were. Vespestad’s “No. 1” is pretty basic dubbed tom-tom solo (a more interesting workout closes the album, imaginatively titled “No. 2”).

Brunborg’s happy tenor is spare, dropping notes here and there, which in time become “All the Things You Are.” Both men are aggressive, Tore with his best solo and Jarle ringing true on the brushes. (His solo is simple but very effective.) The theme is fully stated at the end, and gets very warm as the track starts to fade.

The strong beat continues on “Orbit”, as Brunborg winds a vaguely Middle-Eastern figure. He gets stronger, with rolls, screams, and a very edgy tone. For once both are intense, and it makes for a great change of pace. The last full song is a spectral “Blue in Green”, played by Tore alone. This is intimate, personal, and sweetly sad. It’s a shout in the wilderness (the echo makes it more lonely) and it is the perfect end to a album full of atmosphere.

Slow of motion and active of thought, this is mood music at its moodiest. Play it when you’re alone, and feel like staying that way. Fans of screaming saxophones will look elsewhere, but there are moments when this sounds like you feel. And this might be what you need.


Title: Orbit | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Curling Legs

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