Norway...A stark, cold, and unforgiving land. Aside from being one of the most beautiful countries on earth, Norway is home to some of the most exciting improvised music coming from Europe over the last forty years and guitarist Gjermund Titlestad can certainly take his rightful place among the elite with Map Of The World - Music For Guitar.
What is remarkable when it comes to the presentation of Map Of The World is that Titlestad who is an accomplished disciple of the classical manages to make the transition to a more open ended style while subverting the usual pitfalls of stiffness, predictability and the lack of connection with the average listener. Titlestad more than plays the notes, he makes the music.
There is the simplicity of a deft touch mirrored by an amazing texture that borders somewhere between captivating and adventurous. The average acoustic guitar player in the United States seems to only be found walking the smoother side of the jazz street while Titlestad's virtuoso like performance defies strict categorization. Opening with the Pat Metheny tune and title track "Map Of The World" we find an artist capable of an all most chameleon like performance changing sonic colors and harmonic flow all most at will. "Remembrance" embraces an all most cinematic quality as though a beautiful melody in search of a fine feature film. The closing "Portas Brasileira" composed by Titlestad's duet partner Marius Noss Gundersen has a remarkable ECM like quality. Mysterious yet evocative the tune seems to glide to a more bright and breezy conclusion with just the hint of a Brazilian influence.
American audiences have been spoiled in believing the acoustic guitar is only something found in smooth jazz and classical is a four letter word. Gjermund Titlestad has the ability to delve deep into any genre with a gift that is artistically sublime as well as it is technically proficient. Solo acoustic performances are not rare, just the good performances.
Gjermund elevates good to great and tosses aside the subjectivity of being type cast while turning Map Of The World - Music For Guitar into an experience to be savored. A remarkable recording on every possible level.
Tracks: O. Sommerfeldt: Gitarsolo fra et norsk landskap, op. 61; A Map Of The World; Sonatina; Remembrance; Theme And Variations; Koyunbaba, op. 19; Three Catalan Folksongs; Portas Brasileiras.