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Gordon Grdina: Pendulum

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Gordon Grdina: Pendulum
The Vancouver, BC, oud player & guitarist Gordon Grdina has become a prolific presence in jazz and world music. The Juno award winner led Gordon Grdina's Nomad Trio (Skirl Records, 2020) with Matt Mitchell and Jim Black. The previous year, he took part in the trio of Matthew Shipp and Mark Helias on Skin and Bones (Not Two Records, 2019) where he also played oboe. His work with saxophonist Ivo Perelman, William Parker, Mats Gustafsson, and Hank Roberts places him in the upper echelon of avant-garde and free jazz. Grdina has performed and recorded with Gary Peacock, Paul Motian, Benoit Delbecq and Tony Malaby as well. Pendulum is Grdina's third solo album.

On Pendulum, Grdina mostly plays classical guitar and occasional oud. He often applies his affinity for improvisation and Arabic classical music, sometimes blurring the line between the instruments. "Koen Dori" expresses many of the composer's interests. Beginning as a traditional classical guitar piece, it morphs into a folkish melody and then Eastern phrasing. Grdina takes up the oud on "The Chase" and "Wayward," the only two compositions dedicated to the instrument on the seven-track album. Both are gems which reveal the unlimited possibilities of the instrument's microtones and the composer's vision. Grdina alternates meditative and minimalistic approaches with freer, more aggressive improvising.

Given the versatile nature of the oud and Grdina's mastery of it, it is a shame that he does not dedicate more of his solo efforts to the fretless instrument. It is not that Grdina is any less accomplished a guitarist, but there is an appetite for the growing practice of fusing traditions, disregarding genre, and creating amalgams from the best of these worlds. It is something that Grdina has done so well with his group Haram. It is also an tactic he has used in the company of other improvisers, and with less of a safety net than the guitar pieces on Pendulum.

Grdina has simultaneously released another album, Klotski (ABG Records, 2021) with his new group Square Peg with Mat Maneri, Shahzad Ismaily, and Christian Lillinger. It is jazz/world/rock music with the unabashed energy of fist-pumping power-pop, and it is a universe away from Pendulum. Both are intriguing in very different ways and paint a clearer picture of the artist's diverse interests.

Track Listing

Koen Dori; Contra; The Chase; Benbow Blues; Wayward; Pendulum; Always Been the Song II.

Personnel

Gordon Grdina: oud.

Additional Instrumentation

Gordon Grdina: classical guitar.

Album information

Title: Pendulum | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: ABG Records

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