All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Tord Gustavsen with Simin Tander & Jarle Vespestad: What was said

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
An exciting new trio sees Tord Gustavsen and Jarle Vespestad combine with German-Afghan singer Simin Tander to submit Norwegian church music to the push and pull of improvisation and the spell of thirteenth century Persian Sufi mystic, Jalal al-Din Rumi's poetry. What might seem like an esoteric experiment, in fact follows logical currents. Gustavsen's ensembles have often exhibited folkloric colors, while Tander's unique improvisational idiom on her debut Wagma (Neuklang, 2011) and her Pashto-sung arrangements of Afghan poems on Where Water Travels Home (Jazzhaus Records, 2014) have established her as a singer of poetic sensibility and some originality.

Tander will likely be a new discovery for many and her interpretation in English of the Rumi poem "Your Grief" introduces a voice of haunting gravitas—smooth as flint and lingering like curling smoke. The minimalism of Gustavsen and Vespestad's accompaniment frames Tander's emotive delivery, so too does the absence of a bassist -the first time, at least on record, in Gustavsen and Vespestad's long association. The space serves to accentuate the simple beauty of Gustavsen's arrangements and the emotional weight in what are essentially devotional songs.

"I want to walk with you on life's road, my heart wants to follow you until death, like the small flower reaching for light and day, my heart and my breath yearn for You, oh God, blossom in me, let nothing separate me from you," is the translation from the Pashto on the brooding "Journey of Life," where tribal drums give way to church organ-like, bass synthesizer. Whatever the language, however, Tander's seductive whisper leaves no doubt that these are songs of love.

Earthy poetry and heavenly inspiration fuse persuasively on "What Was Said to The Rose/O Sacred Heart"; Tander captures the sensuality of Rumi's lines, while the rumbling instrumental coda, based on a composition by sixteenth century composer Hans Leo Hassler, bristles with the austere majesty so often the preserve of hymnal music, whatever its provenance.

There's less of Tander the improviser here than on her own records, though glimpses of her art filter through on "I See You," where her staccato guttural and hummed intro paves the way for a haunting Pashto rendition of a traditional Norwegian tune. Equally affecting is her balladry on "Imagine the Fog Disappearing," a lovely tune that rises and falls on the wings of Gustavsen and Vespestad's improvisation, and on the hymnal meditation "Castle in Heaven."

Subtle electronic textures throughout signal a potentially exciting new avenue for Gustavsen to develop, though here the effect is quasi subliminal, as on the delicious slow funk instrumental "The Way You Play My Heart," one of two Gustavsen originals. "Rull," which Tander also sits out, is a melodically uplifting tune as memorable as anything Gustavsen has penned.

This change in dynamics acts as a palate cleanser prior to more bewitching balladry from Tander, first in English on the delicate "The Source of Now is Here," then in Pashto on the traditional Norwegian tunes "Sweet Melting" and the powerful "Longing to Praise Thee." "Afterglow/Sweet Melting" closes a captivating recording on a hushed note, with Tander's caressing vocals underpinned by sympathetic mallets and Gustavsen's feathery touch.

Lyrical and emotionally potent, What Was Said taps into the essence of devotional music and poetry with quietly mesmeric results.

Track Listing: Your Grief; I See You; Imagine the Fog Disappearing; A Castle in Heaven; Journey of Life; I Refuse; What Was Said to the Rose / O Sacred Head; The Way You Play My Heart; Rull; The Source of Now; Sweet Melting; Longing to Praise Thee; Sweet Melting Afterglow.

Personnel: Tord Gustavsen: piano, electronics, synth bass; Simin Tander: voice; Jarle Vespestad: drums.

Title: What was said | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: ECM Records


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Mønk CD/LP/Track Review
by Chris May
Published: September 20, 2018
Read The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming CD/LP/Track Review
The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2018
Read Hidden Details CD/LP/Track Review
Hidden Details
by John Kelman
Published: September 20, 2018
Read Selective Coverage CD/LP/Track Review
Selective Coverage
by Jim Olin
Published: September 20, 2018
Read Fat Daddy CD/LP/Track Review
Fat Daddy
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Short Stories CD/LP/Track Review
Short Stories
by Gareth Thompson
Published: September 19, 2018
Read "Tradition" CD/LP/Track Review Tradition
by Chris May
Published: June 20, 2018
Read "Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 5, 2018
Read "Disarm" CD/LP/Track Review Disarm
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 8, 2018
Read "Arise!" CD/LP/Track Review Arise!
by Chris May
Published: April 24, 2018
Read "Volume III: Magnetic Cycles" CD/LP/Track Review Volume III: Magnetic Cycles
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 19, 2017
Read "Live in Zürich" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Zürich
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 1, 2018