Saturday, September 8, 2012

Back with More by Ketil Bjornstad

A few blogs back (July) I extolled the virtues of Ketil Bjornstad's "Floating" (Emarcy/Universal 2006) which, according to his liner notes, was also his first recording in a classic piano-bass-drums trio, with Palle Danielsson and Marilyn Mazur respectively.

Ketil Bjørnstad - Rainbow SessionsIn Berlin, I discovered yet another non-ECM Bjornstad CD, "The Rainbow" (Emarcy/Universal 2009), described a solo piano excerpts from the 3CD set Rainbow sessions, which I have yet to track down. According to the liner notes, the three original albums each had different atmospheres due to the different studios and/or pianos. This recording of 16 pieces focused on these issues and the balance obtained from the sessions to produce what the musician and producer felt is a unified whole. 
Interestingly, despite the identification of this work as solo piano, there are a number of pieces with very subtle bass and drum lines, some coloring and some providing an underlying rhythm. The CD is not all low key chamber jazz, and the rhythms and tempos are varied enough to provide plenty of interest and surprises. "The Woman on the Pier" is particularly entrancing, with a steady beat of tom-toms (or bongos) and delicate sound of bells or tambourine that provide a pervasive latin feel to the beautiful tune. For "The Rainbow" the drum and bass provide a wash of colors and feelings underpinning the tune, occasional rising up to drive the melody along. Still, most of the pieces are solo and live up to the beauty of Bjornstad's other works, particularly "Solace", "Fanny Xiang (The Sleeping Child", and "Psalm."  Subtle beauty abounds. 

I laid out Bjornstad's background and overall discography in the earlier post in July, which will not be repeated here. What will be repeated are those statements concerning his playing and composing, which once again is exquisite. To paraphrase from my earlier blog, this is another in a long line of flowing, meditative, and serene works that characterize Bjornstad's chamber jazz. 

Fantastic. I hope someday to report on the three disc set. 

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