Eg Veit I Himmerik Ei Borg
The Prodigal Song
Norwegian pianist and composer Tord Gustavsen has been releasing albums on the legendary German label ECM since 2003. (Gustavsen creates work that fits right into a vein of contemplative Nordic jazz that's often associated with the label.) Extended Circle is this quartet’s second release; the music is both precise and moody and moves at its own slow-to-medium pace. The musicians—Gustavsen, tenor saxophonist Tore Brunborg, bassist Mats Eilertsen, and drummer Jarle Vespestad—make up a highly integrated unit. Their version of the traditional Norwegian hymn “Eg Veit I Himmerik Ei Borg” (A Castle in Heaven) is one of the album’s highlights; its yearning quality recalls American spiritual jazz. Brunborg brings great feeling to his lines, and Vespestad’s restless drumming adds tension. “Right There” is a piece for trio, with Brunborg sitting out. The spare track has the direct appeal of a pop song, and Eilertsen’s brief bass statement spotlights his superb tone. “Entrance,” attributed to the entire group, is a slice of edgy quietude, and “The Prodigal Son,” another piece for trio, closes this fine album.