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Extended Circle

Extended Circle

The master of Scandinavian cool is back with another down tempo voyage of discovery. Accompanied by his extended band of Mats Eilertsen on double bass and Jarle Vespestad on drums as well as sax player Tor Brunborg, Gustavsen plays subtle grooves, shimmering melodies and delightful phrases. This third album with Brunborg is the most successful because the sax player seems more in tune with the chilled vibe that made the trio so appealing on its first three albums for ECM. The third piece on here, ‘Entrance’, finds him playing in a haunting style that enhances the calm radiance of the piano. Interestingly it’s also the only group composition on the album.

Gustavsen is all about restraint, using as little as possible to make his point; it’s particularly well recorded meditation. This is a little darker than his earlier work, but that suits the music and serves the vibrance of tone in piano and sax admirably. There is more range than on the early albums, a combination of clear cut tunes, atmospheric pieces, and even the occasional propulsive rhythm. The title refers to a ‘double circle’ of trilogies that this sixth ECM release completes, I wonder if that infers another change in the future.

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