Saturday, July 17, 2010

Frode Gjerstad and Paal Nilssen-Love - Gromka (Not Two, 2010)

Saxophonist and clarinetist Frode Gjerstad and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love make for a potent duo on this album that was recorded live in Slovenia in 2008. Gjerstad cycles adroitly through his arsenal, including alto saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet, beginning on the opening track, "Svirel." His way of approaching the music is very interesting, he strings together short avian sounding notes that mesh very well with Nilssen-Love's supple and muscular drumming. The bursts of notes from the saxophone and clarinet sometimes come in long wavelengths, but are most effective when he gives gamma ray like bursts of energy, blasting out choppy and staccato waves of notes that combine with the drumming to give thirty minute plus epic real staying power. "Klopotec" takes a different tactic, the music flowing slow and abstract, moving in waves, with a great deal of spaciousness, like they were using space as a third instrument. Gjerstad sticks to clarinet, responding with swirls and smears of sound to the subtle percussion. "Ragija" Is another dynamic epic of free improvisation, with clarinet building slowly to squeaking, swirling solo, before stepping aside for a drum solo that is potent, fast and powerful. Gjerstad picks up his alto like an old west gunfighter and squares off against Nilssen-Love's drums with apocalyptic smears of sax against a rolling ocean of percussion. Short blasts of horn play off rhythmic menagerie of roiling, throbbing drums. After this section of awesome power duo playing, they gradually slow the tempo down to an almost gentle finale. Fans of high energy free jazz should flock to this album, it was a very exciting meeting of two of the leading lights of the European free jazz scene. Nilssen-Love's drumming is hypnotically beautiful throughout, and Gjerstad has a conception of structure and freedom that makes for a continually interesting album. Gromka -

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