Norway can claim credit for several excellent jazz artists, but they haven't gotten that much exposure in the U. S. Perhaps the best known are singers Karin Krog and Laila Dalseth, reed plays Jan Garbarek and Totti Bergh. Now comes pianist Einar Iversen and he's been a long time coming. Starting his professional career almost 50 years ago, he is known as the grand old man of jazz. Over the years he has worked with many American jazz men visiting Norway including Don Byas, Ben Webster and Dexter Gordon.
Working in a trio context, Iversen artfully wends his way through a program of pop and jazz standards and a few originals. Irrespective of origin, all are treated with utmost respect and thoughtfulness. Iversen‘s playing leans toward the relaxed lyricism of Bill Evans, although not as pensive. This association stays conspicuous throughout the session on such tunes as his own "Gea", a waltz like rendition evocative of Evans' "Waltz for Debby". His interpretation of the enduring "My Ship" sings as his fingers skate across the keyboard paying a lot of attention to simple melody rather than to complex chordal invention. Bassist Tine Asmundsen adds to the setting with an appealing long lined solo, in lieu of staccato plucking. She also contributes a soothing arco solo on "Hav og Himmel" ("Heaven and Sky").
Musical matters maintain a pretty even rhythmic keel throughout the entire session. Things get a bit spirited on John Coltrane's "Lazy Bird" in a swinging, rather than impressionistic mode, with a free wheeling interplay between piano and Svein Christiansen's drums. Iversen rarely engages in runs and arpeggios. One of the few instances is on a medium tempo "Stockholm Sweetnin'", Iversen sounding more like Oscar Peterson than Bill Evans. Iversen's first effort for the Seaview label is worth having on the shelf to be taken down when in the mood for willowy and compelling piano jazz. Visit the label's Intenet home at www.hazeljazz.com.
Track Listing: My Ship; My Shining Hour; Hav og Himmel; Childhood Memories; One for Helen; Lille Einars Vuggevise; Judith II; Ernie's Tune; Den Sista J
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.