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Considering its rotating cast of characters, the music on Eivind Opsvik's Overseas has a surprising consistency. The leader's bass is a helpful anchor thoughout the disc. Aside from Opsvik, though, are nine musicians who spread their talents across a variety of subgroupings, many which have been known to create all kinds of sounds. Perhaps best known for this is Craig Taborn, whose body of work on the piano, Fender Rhodes and organ ranges from colorful handfuls to impromptu freakouts. Here he is tame, even during the disc's rare atonal passages. Gerald Cleaver, as well, stays away from the more disorienting drum beats and instead favors loose but pocket-driven meters.
The limited range here from a normally rowdy bunch of musicians, however, should not be interpreted as sameness. The disc varies both dynamically and melodically. Sometimes the music is low-key funk, as on "Foxtrot," where an open-ended repetition on Wells Hanley's Fender Rhodes creates the illusion of an ever rising foundation, which is then tempered by Jeff Davis' restraint on the drums. Sometimes the musicians sit quietly behind Opsvik, like on his sensuous ballad, "Earthly," followed immediately by "Hertzian Waves," an exploration of space of sorts, complete with blips and pings from Taborn on the Hammond C3 organ.
Ultimately, the musicians take their lead from Opsvik, not their own egosnor, as one might suspect at times, from their own musical instincts. Tony Malaby plays a calm tenor saxophone, and Jacob Sacks only fits in chords on the piano where Opsvik leaves him space. So Overseas winds up with great consistency, highlighted by a very steady tempo. But this is Opsvik's consistency all the way.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.