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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Extended Circle

ECM 376 0239



1. Right There

2. Eg Veit I Himmerik Ei Borg

3. Entrance

4. The Gift

5. Staying There

6. Silent Spaces

7. Entrance, var.

8. Devotion

9. The Embrace

10. Bass Transition

11. Glow

12. The Prodigal Song


Tord Gustavsen - Piano

Tore Brunberg - Tenor sax

Mats Eilertsen - Bass

Jarle Vespestad - Drums


The Norwegian pianist/composer Tord Gustavsen has become one of ECM's best-selling artists in recent years. No doubt this CD will be bought by many admirers regardless of anything a reviewer might say. On the other hand, I know many jazz fans who would not touch it with the proverbial bargepole, regarding it as nothing more than `soporific noodling'. I must admit that when I enjoy a recording that borders on jazz and classical chamber music, then I enjoy it a lot and am likely to play it regularly, especially in the late hours. This CD - the second with this line-up - will certainly fall into that category.

The opening track with just the trio sets the tone - slow, reflective, hymn-like and hypnotic. Tenor saxist Bronberg joins in on the second track (a Norwegian hymn tune), floating seamlessly over the rhythm. At times, especially on Entrance, his tenor's meditative tone is more like that of a soprano sax, although later in the recording, particularly on the blues-tinged Staying There, he demonstrates a warmer, fuller tone. The Gift, another trio track, is a lyrical masterpiece of breathtaking beauty. On Silent Spaces, Gustavsen plays solo, creating an intense, mysterious atmosphere that rewards repeated listening.

The Embrace changes the mood with an upbeat rocking rhythm that emphasises the high quality of Eilertsen's bass-playing and Vespestad's drumming. The final two tracks are outstanding examples of chamber jazz: Glow begins wistfully and gradually builds to feature a brooding solo by Bronberg; The Prodigal Son returns to the reflective mood of the first track with Gustavsen producing melodic lines of crystalline beauty.

Beautifully recorded, of course - and highly recommended.

George Stacy

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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