Eivind Opsvik (b), Tony Malaby (ts), Loren Stillman (as), Jason Rigby (ss,bcl), Jacob Sacks (p), Craig Taborn (hammond C3 org), Wells Hanley (fender rh), Gerald Cleaver (d), Jeff Davis (d), Dan Weiss (perc)
Bar code: 8427328421461
Norwegian bassist Eivind Opsvik, has caused a real storm in the New York jazz scene during the past months, and is now set to do the same in the rest of the world with the release of Overseas, his debut CD as leader and first appearance on the Fresh Sound New Talent imprint.
On tracks like Punchball or Italian Movie Theme, Opsvik really shows that he is an outstanding bass player with a very personal view of music. He deconstructs, reconstructs and entertains with each and every one of these original compositions. On these recordings, Opsvik has assembled a group of regular players, all of them among the cream of the New York jazz young talents: Tony Malaby (tenor saxophone), Loren Stillman (alto saxophone), Jason Rigby (soprano saxophone, bass clarinet), Jacob Sacks (piano), Craig Taborn (Hammond C3 organ), Wells Hanley (fender rhodes), Gerald Cleaver (drums), Jeff Davies (drums) and Dan Weiss (percussion). This is an essential CD for all fans of interesting, young jazz with unusual flair and vitality (all trademarks of this label).
"Considering its rotating cast of characters, the music on Eivind Opsvik's Overseas has a surprising consistency. The leaders bass is a helpful anchor thoughout the disc. Aside from Opsvik, though, are nine musicians who spread their talents across a variety of subgroupings, many which have been known to create all kinds of sounds. Perhaps best known for this is Craig Taborn, whose body of work on the piano, Fender Rhodes and organ ranges from colorful handfuls to impromptu freak-outs. Here he is tame, even during the disc's rare atonal passages. Gerald Cleaver, as well, stays away from the more disorienting drum beats and instead favors loose but pocket-driven meters.
The limited range here from a normally rowdy bunch of musicians, however, should not be interpreted as sameness. The disc varies both dynamically and melodically. Sometimes the music is low-key funk, as on "Foxtrot," where an open-ended repetition on Wells Hanley's Fender Rhodes creates the illusion of an ever rising foundation, which is then tempered by Jeff Davis' restraint on the drums. Sometimes the musicians sit quietly behind Opsvik, like on his sensuous ballad, "Earthly," followed immediately by "Hertzian Waves," an exploration of space of sorts, complete with blips and pings from Taborn on the Hammond C3 organ.
Ultimately, the musicians take their lead from Opsvik, not their own egos--nor, as one might suspect at times, from their own musical instincts. Tony Malaby plays a calm tenor saxophone, and Jacob Sacks only fits in chords on the piano where Opsvik leaves him space. So Overseas winds up with great consistency, highlighted by a very steady tempo. But this is Opsvik's consistency all the way."
- Matt Rand, All About Jazz (All About Jazz)
"Norwegian bassist/composer Eivind Opsvik moved from Oslo to New York in 1998 to pursue a master's degree in jazz at the Manhattan School of Music. While studying, he forged performing alliances with some of the best of the latest generation of New York jazz players. Now, with sheepskin in hand, he's gathered some of them for his first recording as a leader. Issued on the Spanish label Fresh Sound, Overseas draws on Opsvik's training and interest in jazz, classical and pop music forms, offering 12 original compositions composed over several years but all pointing toward the future.
Some of the tracks are quite brief, but even the shortest, a piece for solo bass that comes in under two minutes, seems thoughtfully developed. Opsvik and draws exemplary performances from the nine musicians who join him in rotating lineups that range from a trio to a septet, along with his two solo selections. Combining his American training and sidemen with his distinctively European approach to composition, Opsvik creates music that is genuinely new, yet highly accessible. Creative use of instrumentation helps, as do the skills of the players assembled, but what makes this album stand out is, in the final analysis, the arrival of one of the most promising young composers in jazz today."
- Shaun Dale, Jazz Review
"Overseas, the excellent debut recording by New York-based Norwegian bassist/composer Eivind Opsvik, shows what happens when a musician puts the whole range of his imagination into play. With an abundance of striking subplotsfrom punchy heads to collective improvsthis is music that makes strict stylistic barriers seem stodgy.
Overseas is meticulously laid out, structured around Opsviks 12 songs and nine musicians deployed in different configurations, from trio to septet.
The pieces rely on a traditional relationship between the bass and drums;
from there they stretch and bend. Many of the instrumental choices are
inspired: two drummers for instance, often appear at once, or two keyboards, where Craig Taborns organ and Jacob Sacks piano are beautifully allied. And when these two pairs appear together, craft trumps chaos every time. These subtly nuanced experiments with color and drama are impressive; its clear that a controlled, collective vision is what really counts.
This vision has its sources. Foxtrot, a jaunty groove, suggests John
Scofield. Prelude, a yearning tenor-piano quartet, sounds like 1970s Keith Jarrett. And two ballads, Redford and Earthly, show traces of Bjork and Madonna. Maybe thats why Overseas is such a perfect generational document: Opsvik has assimilated all of this and more without getting hung up on labels."
- Greg Buium (Down Beat, August 2003)
Pop Warmth From Norway, Blended With Jazz
"As jazz schools continue to generate good to great improvisers, what's still lacking is composers: people who can write music that goes beyond the popular patterns of jazz composition, or, even better, music that resembles song.
Well, say hello to Eivind Opsvik, a young Norwegian bass player and
bandleader whose first album, "Overseas," has just been released by the
Spanish label Fresh Sound (www .freshsoundrecords.com). Mr. Opsvik, who
moved to New York in 1998, recorded this album with New York musicians,
including the saxophonist Tony Malaby, the pianist Craig Taborn and the
drummer Gerald Cleaver. Part of what makes it special is the concision of
the Scandinavian aesthetic filtered through more aggressive and swing-ready players. (New Yorkers will be able to hear him with two different sets of local musicians, at the Knitting Factory on Jan. 20 and at the Cornelia Street Café on Jan. 23.)
Mr. Opsvik writes neatly, and his work is marked to some extent by region:
he sounds inspired by recent small Scandinavian groups like the Esbjorn
Svensson Trio and Bugge Wesseltoft's bands. But mostly he's been inspired to do better.
As with those other groups, the color and mood of his music, along with its
rhythmic patterns, bleed over into pop, and the sound has a sheer,
weightless quality. But while it's not as canny as Mr. Svensson's records or as cross-fertilized with dance music as Mr. Wesseltoft's, Mr. Opsvik's work is warmer. Whether you understand it as jazz or as a kind of instrumental post-rock, it leaves more permanent traces. He has bright ideas about instrumentation, using piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, Hammond organ and even xylophone, sometimes two at a time. But he also attains deeper resonance with a basic jazz rhythm section, an achievement that is a test of any modern jazz group."
- Ben Ratliff (The New York Times)
" Norwegian bassist and composer Eivind Opsvik merges an interest in early
fusion with a characteristically Nordic sensibility. The music on Overseas
is atmospheric, full of shifting, dark pastel textures. The rhythms
underpinning the sounds always seem to be on the verge of finding a groove, yet remain fluid, almost to the point of formlessness.
On "Punchball," for example, seemingly random sounds emerge from a void, peeps and pucks and blips looking for a context. Yet, Opsvik keeps it rooted with a four-note funk phrase every few bars. The sound grows fuller, though not focused until an insistent groove emerges in the closing minutes. The early fusion connection comes through most strongly on "Ivandovich," a trio of acoustic bass, Jesse Davis' drums, and Wells Hanley's Fender Rhodes electric piano. The piece could be an outtake from Miles Davis' In a Silent Way. Opsvik does mix in some characteristically European pop-folk sounds, notably on "Redford" and "Italian Movie Theme." Tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby delivers some urgent, passionate tenor on the latter and on "Prelude." Also contributing strong solo voices are Hanley, with some floating, evasive acoustic piano on "Overseas," and Craig Taborn, who colors several tracks with swirling Hammond organ lines. Opsvik's own bass has an aching sound, with his lines plumbing the depths to find almost folk-song-like melodies."
David Dupont (All Music Guide)
For more information, visit: www.eivindopsvik.com