Gig review: Tord Gustavsen, Edinburgh Queen’s Hall

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TORD Gustavsen’s music can feel a little too thoughtful and understated on disc at times, but on stage even the quietest and slowest compositions cast an absorbing spell.

The pianist’s current group adds saxophonist Tore Brunborg to his well-established trio with bassist Mats Eilertsen and drummer Jarle Vespestad, all musicians of the highest quality.

They took the stage after a short but highly-imaginative set from the Scottish duo of Fraser Fifield and Graeme Stephen, and slipped into an extended set which mixed selections from their recently released album, The Well, with even newer material and a sprinkling of older material.

While only their final tune could really be described as uptempo (and indeed, raunchy), there is ample tension and energy in the music. Gustavsen’s rolling, slow-moving melodies lay meaningful stress on every note, and tiny nuances of timbre and articulation are thrown into high relief, down to the almost subliminal swish of Vespestad’s wire brushes through the air in front of the microphone.

The compositions, notably The Well, built and developed with an almost cinematic quality. Gustavsen’s elegant, measured lines spun out in beautifully constructed fashion, while Brunborg’s tenor saxophone sang over the tight knit interplay of the trio in lyrical fashion.

Eilertsen and Vespestad were full contributors to the evolving soundscapes, leaving their own distinctive stamp on the music, and soloing in memorable fashion. A clearly well-satisfied crowd demanded two encores before they escaped the stage.

Rating: ****