The pristine sound quality that comes as standard with the label Gustavsen records for, ECM, and micro adjustments such as the dash of reverb introduced on the drums at strategic moments play a large part in the Norwegian pianist’s concert presentation.

In fact, there’s probably a whole review to be written

about the tonal properties each musician entrusts to the mixing desk and the contrast between the comparatively imposing physical presence of double

bassist Mats Eilertsen and the world’s quietest drummer, Jarle Vespestad. But these are bound up in a beautiful musical end product that communicates a wealth of ideas and champions celebration as much as melancholy and yearning. It just doesn’t make a big fuss about it.

In saxophonist Tore Brunborg, Gustavsen has a kindred spirit who expands the pianist’s palette while paying attention to melodic refinement and a sense of space. It says much for Brunborg that The Swirl, with its infectiously loose hipped, laid back boogaloo beat, sounded just as complete without the absent Kristin

Asbjornsen’s very individual singing as it does on the ensemble’s new album, Restored, Returned.

Gustavsen, though still compact, plays out of himself more in this setting than in his trio, digging deep into his gospel tendencies on a brand new tune and approaching the rhapsodic on the Spanish dance-influenced Where We Went, the number during which Vespestad, who alternates between sticks and brushes with near-surgical discernment, put forward an emphatic case for, unlikely though it may seem, the drum solo as means of seduction.


Star rating: ****