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The well-traveled and nearly telephathic Norwegian trio of reedist Frode Gjerstad performing on alto sax and clarinet with drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and bassist Jon Rune Strom are joined by NY trombonist Steve Swell for a live concert at at Constellation in Chicago, 2014.

Gjerstad, Frode Trio (w/ Steve Swell)
At Constellation

Gjerstad, Frode Trio (w/ Steve Swell) : At Constellation (Circulasione)

Label: Circulasione    
Released in: Norway    

"Last Wednesday was a free show at Constellation with legendary Norwegian free jazz reed player Frode Gjerstad as part of their weekly Sound Of The City workshop. The first set is the invited group and for the second set local musicians (who attend the first set, mind you) are invited to join the band to improvise together in the second round. But this trio of Gjerstad with fellow Norwegians including the (awesomely named) bassist Jon Rune Strom, drumming maelstrom Paal Nilssen-Love, and special guest NYC based trombonist Steve Swell were so locked on after years of playing together that I couldn't even imagine someone else just hopping aboard.

So I just stayed for the first set but what a set it was! Before they even started playing I was struck by Gjerstad's demeanor. Playing crazy intense free jazz tends to bring to mind stern faces but Gjerstad just stood there chuckling to himself lightly as he eyed his fellow players. He maintained this feel throughout the set even in more focused passages which to me made the improvisations all the more inviting. To do a film comparison, if you go into this expecting Ingmar Bergman, Gjerstad's group instead captured more the feel of Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki's deadpan, lovingly flawed films.

The first part of the set had the effect on me of just watching what was happening more as a slightly detached observer just noticing the different waves of sound. But then Swell and Gjerstad started a passage of playing an airy duet together in which they tried to blow more through their instruments without creating much sound. This really sucked me in (pun sort of intended). Suddenly I felt as if I was in the mix and the intensity of the players really picked up after this meditative section. Strom started karate chopping his bass and sliding his hand down the strings, Swell repeatedly sprayed down his slide to keep it slick for his intense soloing, and Nilssen-Love started throwing more metallic stuff on his drums to add more vibrations into his percussive attack. The pieces that followed could then stretch on and on but the second piece suddenly ended like a dream the band was suddenly roused from. It looked like they were about to take a bow and end the set when they suddenly changed gears and played a super fast, short blistering final number. Unpredictability was the name of the game here."

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
European Improv, Free Jazz & Related
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Product Information:

Label: Circulasione
Catalog ID: 016
Squidco Product Code: 20273

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2014
Country: Norway
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded live at Constellation in Chicago, Illinois, on November 19th, 2014 by David Zuchowski.


Steve Swell-trombone

Paal Nilssen-Love-drums, percussion

Jon Rune Strom-bass

Frode Gjerstad-alto saxophone, clarinet

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Track Listing:

1. Con 28:57

2. Stell 9:10

3. Ation 23:09