208

Jon Opstad: Still Picture

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Jon Opstad: Still Picture With its 35-year history of landmark recordings, it's no surprise that the German ECM label has spawned its share of imitators. But more importantly it has also encouraged more than one generation of artist, who see its cool, austere aesthetic as a starting point for new directions. From the Nordic cool of Jan Garbarek, the neo-classicism of Eberhard Weber and the melancholy lyricism of Kenny Wheeler, younger artists are forging new paths using ECM's delineated sound as inspiration.

British composer/drummer Jon Opstad may only be in his early 20s, but he has already fashioned his own take on the ECM aesthetic, combining some of its more recognizable European elements with a slightly more American framework. His biography cites Garbarek, Wheeler and Herbie Hancock as influences, and you can hear those roots, as well as the looming presence of Eberhard Weber, on his début recording, Still Picture.

The title track, in fact, sounds as if it could have been recorded by Weber's Colours band. Layers of celli come courtesy of James Opstad, who, at the tender age of sixteen, shows remarkable depth as both a cellist and fretless electric bassist, echoing Weber's own orchestral leanings; while Simon Cosgrove's soprano saxophone comes more from Charlie Mariano than it does Garbarek. The piece unfolds gradually, for which Jon Opstad, who composed all the pieces on this collection, deserves credit. In the liner notes to his ECM Selected Recordings collection, Eberhard Weber writes of how "...in the late '70s and early '80s, you took your time, played 'endless' introductions before finally getting down to business. But that bothered nobody because we had patience, a quality disappearing nowadays." Opstad's ensemble clearly understands the concept of taking the necessary time to allow a piece to breathe and gradually evolve; and the title track is a fine example of the five compositions on Still Picture , all of which take their good time and, consequently, create a relaxed ambience that is far too rarely heard these days.

As a drummer Opstad comes unapologetically from the Jon Christensen school of thought. Time is elastic. Less is more. Opstad favours light and textural cymbal-work over heavy rhythms, drawing the time out rather than steadfastly asserting it.

But as much as Still Picture owes a great deal to the ECM aesthetic—and tunes like the opening "Fjord Song" may be inspired by the Nordic faction, but demonstrate equally the bittersweet melodicism of Wheeler, especially in trumpeter David Gange's choice of notes—there's an American flavour there as well, mostly through pianist Rogerson, whose sense of abstract impressionism seems equally balanced between the American and European traditions.

Considering the youngest member of this band is 16 and the oldest is 23, the musical maturity and clearness of conception shown on Still Picture is considerable. They may wear their influences a tad too brightly on their sleeves at the moment, but a work this developed bodes well for future endeavours.


Track Listing: Fjord Song; Three Words; Still Picture; Quiet Place; Athabasca

Personnel: Simon Cosgrove (soprano saxophone), David Gange (flugelhorn, trumpet), Tom Rogerson (piano), James Opstad (fretless bass, cellos), Jon Opsted (drums, percussion), Chris Hill (double-bass on "Fjord Song")

Title: Still Picture | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: New Canvas Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Eleven Cages CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Cages
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Afro-Caribbean Mixtape CD/LP/Track Review Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Wake Up Call CD/LP/Track Review Wake Up Call
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 27, 2017
Read The Late Trane CD/LP/Track Review The Late Trane
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read "The Long Road" CD/LP/Track Review The Long Road
by Troy Collins
Published: November 20, 2016
Read "It's Time" CD/LP/Track Review It's Time
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: August 31, 2016
Read "I Just Did Say Something" CD/LP/Track Review I Just Did Say Something
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 27, 2016
Read "Blue And Lonesome" CD/LP/Track Review Blue And Lonesome
by Doug Collette
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "Loneliness Road" CD/LP/Track Review Loneliness Road
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 11, 2017
Read "Towards Language" CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.