Frode Gjerstad | Paal Nilssen-Love | Gromka | Not Two Records

Not Two, 2010 | MW 839-2 | CD

Frode Gjerstad – Alto saxophone, Bass & Bb Clarinet | Paal Nilssen-Love– Drums

All music by Gjerstad (Tono) and Nilssen-Love (Tono).

Recorded by Iztok Zupan. Mixed and mastered by Frode Gjerstad. Produced by Gjerstad and Nilssen-Love. Co-produced by Marek Winiarski. Layout and cover design by Marek Wajda. Photos by Iztok Zupan. Special thanks to Miha Zadnikar. Recorded live on June 10th and 11th 2008 at Klub Gromka, Ljubljana

Tracklist: 1. Svirel [32:24] 2. Klopotec [09:29] 3. Ragija [25:19]


It is hard to choose

which duo partner of drummer Paal Nilssen-Love to favor over another, as there are simply so many to pick from. There are his collaborations with Ken Vandermark, heard on their Chicago Volume and Milwaukee Volume (Smalltown Superjazz, 2009); the fine Peter Brotzmann session, Woodcuts ((Smalltown Superjazz, 2010); Mats Gustafsson’s Splatter (Smalltown Superjazz, 2007); or, a personal favorite, Joe McPhee’s Tomorrow Came Today (Smalltown Superjazz, 2008).

Nilssen-Love can also be heard with Magnus Broo, Nils Henrik Asheim, John Butcher, Lasse Marhaug, Anders Hana, and, perhaps his longest sustained partner, multi-reedist Frode Gjerstad. The two have been collaborating for nearly 20 years in the Circulasione Totale Orchestra, the longstanding Gjerstad trio with bassist Øyvind Storesund, and in duo performance.

The two Norwegian players speak the same language: free jazz. This date—a live session from Club Gromka in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in June 2008—delivers a torrent of forcefulness and passion which will not be surprising to their followers.

As a drummer, Nilssen-Love eschews the jazz canon for a more disheveled pulse. He’s like a dinner guest that comes wearing a tuxedo with his shirt untucked and three days growth of beard. His beats are dynamic, yet asymmetrical. Paired with Gjerstad the sound is animated and buzzing. Gjerstad favors the upper registers here—even on his bass clarinet which, at times, is difficult to distinguish from his alto saxophone. With this music, the themes are dynamism and passion, and the two charm the crowd with their constant mutable nature. Gjerstad feels no need to tether Nilssen-Love’s playing to the ground. And likewise, the drummer responds to Gjerstad with his jumbled flurry of sticks and beat.

This is music that grips by the throat from the first note. — Mark Corroto

FRODE GJERSTAD

was born in Stavanger, Norway, 24-03-1948. He started trying to play improvised music as a trumpeter in 1968. When he moved to Lund in Sweden (1971 to 1975) he got a chance to meet, talk and play with musicians interested in this music. He had at that time started playing tenor saxophone (1969). After he came back to Stavanger in 1975 he started collaborating with keyboardist Eivin One Pedersen. Together, they explored many different aspects of improvised music, as a duo or with others, but it was not until 1981, when they first played with John Stevens, that he had a real chance to feel what a dedicated musicians can do to the music-making. At the early stage of his career, he choose mainly to play with international musicians because there was no tradition in Norway for the free music. However, after the club Blå opened in Oslo in 1996, a good number of younger musicians are now picking up on the music.

His relationship with British drummer, John Stevens which started in -81 and lasted up until his death in -94, was of great importance both musically as well as on a personal level. Through Stevens, he was introduced to some of the finest British improvisers and got to know their way of playing. Together, they led the trio “Detail” starting with Johnny Dyani on bass. And after Johnny died in -86, with Kent Carter. He has also been active, running a larger group of mostly Norwegian musicians, the Circulasione Totale Orchestra. He started the group using electric instruments and modern rock-oriented rhythms. He has used the band to present his own compositions as well as a workshop and a place for young people to get to know free music. The band presented a commissioned work at the Molde Festival in -89 with a 13 man band combining free improvisations, compositions as well as rapping and scratching.(Three horns, three bassists, three drummers, accordeon, guitar a rapper and a DJ). The Circulasione Totale Orchestra is a powerful ever-changing band. But it´s not easy to keep such a big group together. In 1998 he decided to keep the core of the band which at that time was Paal Nilssen-Love on drums and Øyvind Storesund on bass and try to develop that sound. It became Frode Gjerstad Trio. So far the trio has toured Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Polen, Italy, Austria, Portugal, England, Canada and the United States.

He has received several grants from various foundations and has been very active in the Norwegian Jazzmusicians Federation as well as in the committee for the Norwegian Contemporary Music Federation. Voted Jazz Musician of the Year in Norway, 1997. Part of the price was a concert where he could freely choose which musicians to use. This was the first meeting with Hamid Drake and William Parker. The concert became a tour of Scandinavia in -97 and the US in 2000. US Pianist Borah Bergman has also been important to Frode. They first met in -94 and have played as a duo and also as trio with Evan Parker and later Peter Brøtzmann. Borah has been a great inspiration and a challenge over the years! English bassist Nicholas Stephens first played with Frode in 1984. He played electric bass at the time, but it was not until after John Stevens died in 1994 that they started working together as “Calling Signals”. First with a tour of England in 1995 with Paul Rutherford and Terje Isungset. And in 1996 with Louis Moholo and Danish guitarist, Hasse Poulsen. The latest version of the group has been with accordionist Eivin One Pederesen and Paal Nilssen-Love or Tony Marsh on drums. Frode also met and worked with US percussionist Kevin Norton in 2004 and they have found a common ground. They have a trio with Nicholas Stephens: Instinctual Eye.

Electronic music started to make an impact when he met Lasse Marhaug. They have played some concerts together and made some recordings. Lasses sounds have opened up a whole new territory of possibilities and came at a time when Frode started playing clarinets. A very fruitful combination! Another side of the electronic thing was the group Ultralyd which was Frodes idea: to bring in a loud powerful electric bass with drums, guitar and reeds. After about a year, he left the band because the sound level was unbearable for the old man.! And he left it to the youngsters to decide how loud the band should be. Still, he has continued playing with Morten, Anders and Kjetil in other projects. His latest project is a quartet with US reed-man Sabir Mateen, Paal Nilssen-Love and Danish electric bassist, Peter Friis-Nielsen.

PAAL NILSSEN-LOVE

was born in Molde, Norway, Dec 24. 1974, and raised at a jazz club in Stavanger, run by his parents. It was natural to choose his fathers drums as his instrument and jazz as his work. From 1990 on he took actively part in the jazz milieu in Stavanger and joined bands with established musicians such as trumpeter Didrik Ingvaldsen and saxophonist Frode Gjerstad. In many ways, these collaborations were essential as they pointed out the directions for Paal’s later musical development and career. During his studies at the Jazz dept at the University in Trondheim, where the first self initiated bands were established, things developed really fast – and Paal was nationally acknowledged at the age of 20. The forming of the quartet Element in 1993 in many ways represented the start of a new phase in Paal’s musical life. Element musically became a platform for several other groups with bassist Flaten and pianist Wiik, and lead to collaborations with Iain Ballamy and Chris Potter, amongst others. Paal moved to Oslo in 1996, where he joined and/or took part in the forming of bands like Vindaloo, SAN, Håkon Kornstad Tio, The Quintet and Frode Gjerstad Trio. He later on got more into self initiated projects and collaborations with Swedish musicians, such as pianist Sten Sandell and saxophonist Mats Gustafsson.

Paal played his first solo concert in 1999, and since then the solo concept has been an important part of his work: “Everyone should try doing some solo work, just to feel who you really are and what gets you going”. His solo album “Sticks and stones” was put out in 2001 on SOFA Rec. Being active in several bands at the same time has always been Paal’s deliberate working method. He is constantly conscious about the projects he is in, as his participation in each and one of them is fully dedicated. Playing is not about getting from start to goal, but rather being in an everlasting process, a continuous movement where each new piece of music performed is a prolongation of the latest. Hence, keeping focused and concentrating all energy around what’s happening there and then is of greatest importance – as is the freedom in the music, the ability of being free within the expression.

All bands, although various styles and musical versatility in general, represent important pieces that make up a total, and all bands are formed or joined with a clear vision. Today Paal’s portfolio includes Atomic, School Days, The Thing, Frode Gjerstad Trio, Sten Sandell Trio, Scorch Trio, Territory Band, FME, and various duo projects such as with reedmen Ken Vandermark, John Butcher, Mats Gustafsson, organist Nils Henrik Asheim and noise wizard Lasse Marhaug. And not to forget the recently joined Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet.

Before turning 30 Paal has stated his position as one of the most profiled drummers in Europe today, he has made numberless performances at festivals and clubs in Europe and USA and participated on more than 50 recordings. He runs his own annual festival – All Ears – for improvised music in Oslo, which is an important part of his musical life, and he plans to start his own recording label for vinyl productions. Like Pat Metheny put it in 2002, after having played with Paal at Molde International Jazz festival: “He is simply one of the best new musicians I’ve heard during the latest years!” And after having heard Paal in 9 different settings at the same festival, Down Beat reporter Dan Quelette stated: “His week at Molde proved a revelation: Nilssen-Love is one of the most innovative, dynamic and versatile drummers in jazz!”


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