276

Frode Gjerstad Trio: Ultima

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
Witnessing this trio in concert is an unforgettable experience. This disc, released in tandem with their recent North American tour, is as close as it gets to hearing them in the flesh, outside of being fortunate enough to catch one of their gigs in person. The trio’s first recording Remember to Forget on Gjerstad’s own Circulasione Totale label captured a similar level of cathartic energy and works as an ideal companion piece to the one at hand. Set consuming improvisatory blow-outs are this group’s bread and butter and this disc attempts to cage one such beast recorded at the eponymous festival in Oslo. Compositional and arranging credit for “Ultima” is attributed to Gjerstad on the disc’s sleeve, but the piece sounds largely improvised, making only sparing use of preconceived material. The improvisational nature of the music is one of the chief reasons behind its unmitigated success.

Gjerstad may be the prominent name on the sleeve, but from the opening empyrean currents of “Ultima” it’s the rhythmic juggernaut of Parker and Drake that more often than not steers the direction of the group. Gjerstad feeds off the pair’s seemingly limitless reserve of creative stamina adding his own ironclad chops to the effort in a dense thicket of writhing alto lines. The piece swallows up the better part of an hour and players continue along a course of episodic interludes exploring the rhythmic and harmonic permutations of their instrumentation. Ten minutes in Gjerstad lifts his reed from his lips and it becomes Parker’s show in a signature sawing arco workout that leaves the smell of smoldering strings lingering in the air. Twenty minutes later it’s Drake’s turn and he plows a perfusion of deep polyrhythmic furrows on his drum kit that has all of his limbs working in vigorous confluence. Next its Parker again, this time on bow, who builds a delicate reticulation from somber harmonic fabric. Still further into the forest it’s Gjerstad’s upper register squeals which spray a prismatic array of tonal colors across Drake’s percolating hand percussion and Parker’s ominous bass vamp. Even at the piece’s termination point, which fades with Parker in mid-stride, the players still sound as if they could continue for another hour; proof, as if any was necessary, of their consummate musical inexhaustibility.

Any uninterrupted work of music of this duration is bound to have moments where the momentum wavers. There are sections where the sheer magnitude of what these players are attempting becomes daunting, but there’s certainly never a dull moment when it comes to their interplay. When and where this trio will decide to reconvene is uncertain. The logistics of arranging all three players’ schedules alone precludes a prompt reunion. In the meantime there is this disc to remind us of what’s to look forward to when they do.

Personnel: Frode Gjerstad- alto saxophone; William Parker- bass; Hamid Drake- drums.

Recorded: October 7, 1997, Oslo, Norway.

| Record Label: Cadence Jazz Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Circles CD/LP/Track Review Circles
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Windmills CD/LP/Track Review Windmills
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Ugly Beautiful CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beautiful
by David A. Orthmann
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Trickster CD/LP/Track Review Trickster
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Caipi CD/LP/Track Review Caipi
by Geannine Reid
Published: March 24, 2017
Read United CD/LP/Track Review United
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 23, 2017
Read "High Noon" CD/LP/Track Review High Noon
by Anthony Shaw
Published: September 10, 2016
Read "The Catfish" CD/LP/Track Review The Catfish
by Chris Mosey
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "You'll See" CD/LP/Track Review You'll See
by Chris Mosey
Published: June 27, 2016
Read "TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)" CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read "Signature" CD/LP/Track Review Signature
by Chris Mosey
Published: August 17, 2016
Read "This Is Trumpetology" CD/LP/Track Review This Is Trumpetology
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: DOT TIME RECORDS | BUT IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!