Saturday, November 10, 2012

Eivind Opsvik Overseas IV LLCD 011 2012

The one that almost got away...Don't get me wrong, Norwegian bassist  Eivind Opsvik has a enviable resume that includes stints with such contemporaries as David Binney, Jeremy Udden, and Paul Motian not to mention a wide ranging harmonic base that flow effortlessly from Brian Eno to Neil Young. A progressive young talent but what makes Opsvik work well is he is a musician that is grounded in the present along with one foot in both the present and past. The end result of Overseas IV is a hybrid of open ended and while I cringe while I use the word, progressive recordings with his latest group Overseas. Perhaps it may be an election hangover but progressive loses all meaning unless you have a clear and discernible knowledge and understanding of where it is you are professing to. Opsvike does! This marks Opsvik's fourth release in a near decade long series of recordings that chronicle his growth as an artist but as perhaps one of the most prolific bassists of our time.

To start I look at the cover art and move on from that point. In the day of the digital download concert art or in some cases photography is a lost art but not with Evind Opsvik and release continues on an up swing from there. The liner notes are clean, precise and spot on much in the same wasy Opsvik approaches his work on bass. Opsvik opts for the sonic road less traveled with a far more expansive approach of possibilities and a harmonic foundation that transcends stereotypical genre often associated with an at time maligned instrument. As this particular series as grown and progressed as an artistic triumph so to as Opsvik's compositional D.N.A. and lyrical flow. Overseas IV nails it thanks largely in part to the ability to fuse whimsical fare along with the spirit of baroque operas to along with the old school if not original call and response pattern that was and in still many cases remains ground zero for the jazz idiom itself. Organice and eclectic are words that easily lose meaning in a context such as this but Opsvik's stroke of genius is to add harpichord, mandolin, and farfisa organ with the end result resembling chamber jazz on steroids. Eclectic music with muscle. A sense of lyrical development minus the trappings of self indulgency and the all to familiar air of pretentiousness often associated with this hybrid , Mixing modern jazz with music that captures the imagery of 18th century France is the type of visionary not to mention free thinker that at times has Overseas IV pushing a slightly free jazz approach to a release that stands on firm harmonic footing with a unique lyrically footing unmatched by his contemporaries.

Find the last chord, the sound of the more traditional working band rather than the self indulgent soloing of perhaps one or two soloists is Opsvik's wheelhouse and this is nailed from the very beginning. Experimental cinematic music. A keen sense of melody intertwined with a harmonic exploratory of both the visceral and cerebral make this release as hands down a killer for 2012. An artist, at the very least a successful artist is consistentantly looking for new, different and accessible means of creativity. I specifically use "accessible" as art be it music, painting or sculpture is all about paying the bills. Art is a business, period. Opsviks is part artist and part musical visionary as he continues on the path of least resistance. The tune "Robbers" fits is perfectly with the ebb and flow of this dynamic offering where Tony Malaby's saxophone engages is a musical happy place somewhere between the old call and response patter of the origins of jazz and of a more textured harp bop sheen buffed on to make the tune really shine, either way it works. "Michelle Marie" was inspired by Opsvik's wife but not a love song in the traditional sense but rater an exploratory of the passion, grace, and fire that are all components of love but with odd meter and plenty of high octane fire power.

Opsvike is the future of the modern jazz bassist. A compositional master, a lyrial virtuoso and an individual that can swing hard or go home. Those that travel my cultural inner circle know it takes a major release of significant magnitude to trigger excitement. Overseas IV is an incredibly excising release that sets the standard for his contemporaries to follow. This one is easy:

Tracks: They Will Hear The Drums - And They Will Anwer; White Armour; 1786; Silverweaver's Song; Men On Hereos; Robbers and Fairgound Folk; Michelle Marie; Nineteen To The Dozen; Der kalde Havet; Youth Hopeth All Things; Believeth All Things.

Personnel: Kenny Wollesen: drums, cymbals, tympani, vibraphone, marching machine; Jacob Sacks: harpsichord, farfisa organ, piano; Tony Malaby: saxophone; Brandon Seabrook: electric guitar;