Tord Gustavsen Quartet. Edinburgh, March 2014.

I have seen Tord Gustavsen play with his trio several times I the last few years, though this was the first time I had seen his quartet, the trio augmented with Tore Brunborg on saxophone.

The music was as beautiful as I had expected. And that was its major problem: it was exactly as I expected. There were no surprises, nothing jarring. And this predictability leads, for me, to a performance that disappoints. I need some rough edges, some excitement. Without it, the experience was a little too rich, too exquisite.

Aside from one saxophone solo towards the end of the set, the was little building of tension. Gustavsen’s music has a melancholic, contemplative mood. The playing from all members of the quartet is excellent – Gustavsen has found players who match his sound. The drums of Jarle Vespestad in particular fit very well: he’s a drummer who manages to say a lot, quietly and subtly.

But for me the gentleness wears after a while. I craved some change in the heat: this was just too cool.

I have to say that I was in the minority here. I have spoken to several people who were at the gig, and I’m the only one who had too much of what the quartet had to offer! Everyone else was uniformly effusive and could have continued listening all night.


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