The Norwegian double bassist has always been a hugely supportive player and, given the chance to lead, he has on his recent albums on the Hubro label and now on his debut as a leader on ECM created a band ethos which gives generous scope to his collaborators.
And there are six of them on this disc: Trygve Seim on tenor and soprano saxophones, Eirik Hegdal on soprano and baritone saxophones, clarinet and bass clarinet, Thomas T Dahl on guitar, Rob Waring on marimba and vibraphone, Harmen Fraanje on piano and Fender Rhodes, and Olavi Louhivuori on drums.
Eilertsen uses his forces in different combinations, sometimes not all at once, sometimes giving the stage over to Fraanje alone, for example. It gives this album a lovely wide landscape and a kind of meandering development within it; it feels broad in style and welcoming of a range of influences, all cohering around this anchoring central bass fulcrum.
There are no “representative” tracks as each has its own character. Take Balky – it begins with a circling piano and bass pattern-framework, underpinned by a carefully expanding drum pulse and overflown by Seim in a Scandinavia-meets-Middle Eastern frame of mind. Slowly chiming vibes come from centreground to take the lead, interweaving with Seim. There could be guitar in there as well but it’s so subtle that I can’t be sure.
Indeed, the way piano, mallet instruments and guitar inhabit the same sonic space without getting in each other’s way and still ending up with the overall sound as spacious as this is a real feat.
A gorgeous album that is growing in importance for me with each listen.
Categories: CD review