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Terje Gewelt - Wow And Flutter Rating: 3-5 out of 5 A skilfully crafted and well programmed album with the more atmospheric and impressionistic pieces alternating effectively with the darker, more powerful episodes.

Terje Gewelt

“Wow and Flutter”

(Resonant Music – RM26-2)

Terje Gewelt (born Oslo, 1960) is a Norwegian bassist and composer with an international reputation.

After studying in Norway with fellow bassist Arild Andersen Gewelt attended the famous Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA where he performed with similarly talented young musicians from all over the world, among them the Scottish saxophonist Tommy Smith.

It was through his connections with Smith that I first became aware of Gewelt’s playing. With Smith he was the co-founder of the late 1980s quartet Forward Motion and he continued to play on the saxophonist’s solo records into the mid 1990s.

In 1989, after seven years in the US, Gewelt returned to his native Norway but continued to be a significant presence on the international jazz scene. Adept on both the acoustic and electric versions of his instrument he is an in demand player who has appeared on over one hundred recordings. Among those with whom he has collaborated are drummers Billy Cobham and Michael Shrieve, pianist Misha Alperin, guitarist David Torn, saxophonist John Surman and vocalist Karin Krog.

In 1998 Gewelt recorded his début album as a leader, “Hide and Seek”, releasing it the following year on his own Resonant Music label. All of his subsequent solo recordings have appeared on the label, “Wow and Flutter” being the twelfth.

The new album features an all Norwegian line up but, like the leader, these are musicians with international reputations. Drummer and sound artist Terje Evensen, who actually forwarded me the CD (thanks, Terje) has performed with the British trumpeter Rory Simmons in the band Eyes of a Blue Dog, with fellow drummer Martin France in the latter’s Spin Marvel project, and with British bassist Tim Harries in both Spin Marvel and the electro-improvising duo Puul.

Guitarist Bjorn Klakegg has collaborated with the Anglo-Norwegian duo Food, appearing with saxophonist Iain Ballamy and drummer Thomas Stronen at the 2011 Harmonic Festival at the Midland Arts Centre (mac) in Birmingham. Only pianist/keyboard player Erlend Slettevoll (born 1981) appears to have no British connections but he has acquired an impressive reputation in his homeland thanks to his work with bands such as The Core and Grand General.

The music on “Wow and Flutter” consists of eight Gewelt originals plus a further two pieces credited to Gewelt/Klakegg/Evensen. The sound makes extensive use of electric instruments with Evensen being credited with both drums and electronics. In many respects the music is a kind of contemporary fusion with the accompanying press release declaring; “the music moves in many different directions, reflecting the unsure and dividing times we are now all experiencing”.

The album commences with the melodic electric jazz of “Time Travels” with Klakegg featuring on electric guitar and Slettevoll on electric piano. Electric era Miles Davis is an obvious influence but with Evensen’s subtle use of contemporary electronica helping to give the piece more of a modern feel.

“Ups And Downs” combines electric and acoustic sounds with Gewelt’s delightfully languid and melodic electric bass contrasting nicely with Klakegg’s cleanly picked acoustic guitar. Slettevoll’s electric keyboards provide additional colour and texture while Evensen turns in a beautifully understated performance on brushed drums. For all this the listener’s ear inevitably focuses on the leader’s warm and sumptuous electric bass playing.

“Leaving Town” ups the energy levels with a foray into vintage fusion that recalls the music’s 70s heyday while retaining an agreeably contemporary edge. Slettevoll solos on funky sounding Rhodes while Klakegg wigs out with some frenzied electric guitar playing as Gewelt and Evensen lay down a bustling, propulsive groove.

“Iskanten” is more impressionistic and begins with the delicate sound of Slettevoll’s acoustic piano contrasting with the vaguely ominous crackle of Evensen’s electronics. Gewelt presents another example of his melodic sensibilities as he moves between acoustic and electric bass, combining well with the sparse but limpid lyricism of Slettevoll’s acoustic piano and the sensitivity of Evensen’s drum accompaniment with its carefully calibrated cymbal decorations. The piece ends in a wash of electronica, simultaneously calming and unsettling.

Electronically enhanced percussion introduces “Crosstalk”, a piece that first harks back in jazz time by initially acting as a feature for Gewelt’s slippery, Pastorius-like electric bass before coming bang up to date courtesy of Klakegg’s wide-screen, FX drenched guitar.

“Seafarer” finds the quartet in impressionistic waters once more on a voyage that features Klakegg on acoustic guitar, Gewelt on melodic double bass and Evensen on atmospherically brushed drums. Klakegg switches to electric guitar for his solo, sounding vaguely Frisell-like, but remaining true to the spirit of the journey. Elsewhere the electronic elements are used sparingly and judiciously to provide subtle dashes of additional colour and texture.

The title track is credited to Gewelt, Klakegg and Evensen, suggesting that it may have been born out of group improvisation. It’s certainly the most loosely constructed track thus far with Evensen’s busy, electronically enhanced percussion providing an element of structure and underpinning some extraordinary noises from Klakegg who sounds as if he may sometimes be deploying a bow on the strings of his electric guitar in the manner of his fellow countryman Stian Westerhus. Gewelt’s role in all this is less easy to define, but one suspects that he too is using a degree of electronic enhancement and extended technique.

“Melancholy Blue” commences in supremely atmospheric fashion with the dramatic ringing of Klakegg’s guitar above an eerie backwash of tinkling percussion and shimmering electronica. Gewelt’s melodic electric bass introduces a degree of order and helps to provide the undulating backdrop for Klakegg’s starkly evocative solo on acoustic slide guitar. Again shades of Bill Frisell’s Americana, but filtered through an unmistakably European perspective.

Also attributed to the composing trio Gewelt/Klakegg/Evensen “Raw Air” again sounds partly improvised with a loosely structured intro featuring Klakegg’s heavily distorted guitar channelling Hendrix for the 21st century. Later the three musicians dig in for some solid power trio riffing and interplay that sounds more obviously ‘written’ and again features Klakegg going into overdrive as Evensen drums up a storm behind him.

In the wake of this onslaught the closing “Gone Sailing” represents a complete contrast with its lazy Latin-esque grooves and languidly melodic electric bass and guitar and cheesy electric piano. Heck it’s almost ‘smooth jazz’. One suspects that Mr. Gewelt and his chums may be playing some kind of elaborate joke on us. However after some of the earlier heaviness it’s a nice way to round off the album with some commentators suggesting that this piece is a depiction of life as it should be. 

“Wow And Flutter” is a skilfully crafted and well programmed album with the more atmospheric and impressionistic pieces alternating effectively with the darker, more powerful episodes before ending on an optimistic, or possibly ironic note.

The playing is excellent throughout and the album is a welcome reminder of Gewelt’s abilities as both a performer and a writer – he rather dropped off my radar after completing his tenure with Tommy Smith.

Evensen impresses hugely as a drummer, other releases featuring him that I’ve covered have largely been more about his abilities as an electronic musician / sound artist. He is hugely effective in both roles here.

Klakegg also shines throughout, demonstrating his facility and versatility on both electric and acoustic guitar and contributing several stand out solos.

Likewise Slettevoll, who appears less frequently but exhibits similar qualities on both acoustic piano and electric keyboards.

The music on “Wow And Flutter” is rooted in fusion and as such won’t appeal to all jazz listeners but it’s still an album capable of reaching out to a broad constituency. Adventurous rock listeners, including prog fans, should also find much to enjoy here.


COMMENTS:

From Terje Evensen via email;


Thank you so much for the review of Terje Gewelt’s album!
Very grateful for the amount of detail you put into it - very quotable, which we will certainly make use of.
Thanks again and all the best
 

Wow And Flutter

Terje Gewelt

Friday, September 01, 2017

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

3-5 out of 5

Wow And Flutter

A skilfully crafted and well programmed album with the more atmospheric and impressionistic pieces alternating effectively with the darker, more powerful episodes.

Terje Gewelt

“Wow and Flutter”

(Resonant Music – RM26-2)

Terje Gewelt (born Oslo, 1960) is a Norwegian bassist and composer with an international reputation.

After studying in Norway with fellow bassist Arild Andersen Gewelt attended the famous Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA where he performed with similarly talented young musicians from all over the world, among them the Scottish saxophonist Tommy Smith.

It was through his connections with Smith that I first became aware of Gewelt’s playing. With Smith he was the co-founder of the late 1980s quartet Forward Motion and he continued to play on the saxophonist’s solo records into the mid 1990s.

In 1989, after seven years in the US, Gewelt returned to his native Norway but continued to be a significant presence on the international jazz scene. Adept on both the acoustic and electric versions of his instrument he is an in demand player who has appeared on over one hundred recordings. Among those with whom he has collaborated are drummers Billy Cobham and Michael Shrieve, pianist Misha Alperin, guitarist David Torn, saxophonist John Surman and vocalist Karin Krog.

In 1998 Gewelt recorded his début album as a leader, “Hide and Seek”, releasing it the following year on his own Resonant Music label. All of his subsequent solo recordings have appeared on the label, “Wow and Flutter” being the twelfth.

The new album features an all Norwegian line up but, like the leader, these are musicians with international reputations. Drummer and sound artist Terje Evensen, who actually forwarded me the CD (thanks, Terje) has performed with the British trumpeter Rory Simmons in the band Eyes of a Blue Dog, with fellow drummer Martin France in the latter’s Spin Marvel project, and with British bassist Tim Harries in both Spin Marvel and the electro-improvising duo Puul.

Guitarist Bjorn Klakegg has collaborated with the Anglo-Norwegian duo Food, appearing with saxophonist Iain Ballamy and drummer Thomas Stronen at the 2011 Harmonic Festival at the Midland Arts Centre (mac) in Birmingham. Only pianist/keyboard player Erlend Slettevoll (born 1981) appears to have no British connections but he has acquired an impressive reputation in his homeland thanks to his work with bands such as The Core and Grand General.

The music on “Wow and Flutter” consists of eight Gewelt originals plus a further two pieces credited to Gewelt/Klakegg/Evensen. The sound makes extensive use of electric instruments with Evensen being credited with both drums and electronics. In many respects the music is a kind of contemporary fusion with the accompanying press release declaring; “the music moves in many different directions, reflecting the unsure and dividing times we are now all experiencing”.

The album commences with the melodic electric jazz of “Time Travels” with Klakegg featuring on electric guitar and Slettevoll on electric piano. Electric era Miles Davis is an obvious influence but with Evensen’s subtle use of contemporary electronica helping to give the piece more of a modern feel.

“Ups And Downs” combines electric and acoustic sounds with Gewelt’s delightfully languid and melodic electric bass contrasting nicely with Klakegg’s cleanly picked acoustic guitar. Slettevoll’s electric keyboards provide additional colour and texture while Evensen turns in a beautifully understated performance on brushed drums. For all this the listener’s ear inevitably focuses on the leader’s warm and sumptuous electric bass playing.

“Leaving Town” ups the energy levels with a foray into vintage fusion that recalls the music’s 70s heyday while retaining an agreeably contemporary edge. Slettevoll solos on funky sounding Rhodes while Klakegg wigs out with some frenzied electric guitar playing as Gewelt and Evensen lay down a bustling, propulsive groove.

“Iskanten” is more impressionistic and begins with the delicate sound of Slettevoll’s acoustic piano contrasting with the vaguely ominous crackle of Evensen’s electronics. Gewelt presents another example of his melodic sensibilities as he moves between acoustic and electric bass, combining well with the sparse but limpid lyricism of Slettevoll’s acoustic piano and the sensitivity of Evensen’s drum accompaniment with its carefully calibrated cymbal decorations. The piece ends in a wash of electronica, simultaneously calming and unsettling.

Electronically enhanced percussion introduces “Crosstalk”, a piece that first harks back in jazz time by initially acting as a feature for Gewelt’s slippery, Pastorius-like electric bass before coming bang up to date courtesy of Klakegg’s wide-screen, FX drenched guitar.

“Seafarer” finds the quartet in impressionistic waters once more on a voyage that features Klakegg on acoustic guitar, Gewelt on melodic double bass and Evensen on atmospherically brushed drums. Klakegg switches to electric guitar for his solo, sounding vaguely Frisell-like, but remaining true to the spirit of the journey. Elsewhere the electronic elements are used sparingly and judiciously to provide subtle dashes of additional colour and texture.

The title track is credited to Gewelt, Klakegg and Evensen, suggesting that it may have been born out of group improvisation. It’s certainly the most loosely constructed track thus far with Evensen’s busy, electronically enhanced percussion providing an element of structure and underpinning some extraordinary noises from Klakegg who sounds as if he may sometimes be deploying a bow on the strings of his electric guitar in the manner of his fellow countryman Stian Westerhus. Gewelt’s role in all this is less easy to define, but one suspects that he too is using a degree of electronic enhancement and extended technique.

“Melancholy Blue” commences in supremely atmospheric fashion with the dramatic ringing of Klakegg’s guitar above an eerie backwash of tinkling percussion and shimmering electronica. Gewelt’s melodic electric bass introduces a degree of order and helps to provide the undulating backdrop for Klakegg’s starkly evocative solo on acoustic slide guitar. Again shades of Bill Frisell’s Americana, but filtered through an unmistakably European perspective.

Also attributed to the composing trio Gewelt/Klakegg/Evensen “Raw Air” again sounds partly improvised with a loosely structured intro featuring Klakegg’s heavily distorted guitar channelling Hendrix for the 21st century. Later the three musicians dig in for some solid power trio riffing and interplay that sounds more obviously ‘written’ and again features Klakegg going into overdrive as Evensen drums up a storm behind him.

In the wake of this onslaught the closing “Gone Sailing” represents a complete contrast with its lazy Latin-esque grooves and languidly melodic electric bass and guitar and cheesy electric piano. Heck it’s almost ‘smooth jazz’. One suspects that Mr. Gewelt and his chums may be playing some kind of elaborate joke on us. However after some of the earlier heaviness it’s a nice way to round off the album with some commentators suggesting that this piece is a depiction of life as it should be. 

“Wow And Flutter” is a skilfully crafted and well programmed album with the more atmospheric and impressionistic pieces alternating effectively with the darker, more powerful episodes before ending on an optimistic, or possibly ironic note.

The playing is excellent throughout and the album is a welcome reminder of Gewelt’s abilities as both a performer and a writer – he rather dropped off my radar after completing his tenure with Tommy Smith.

Evensen impresses hugely as a drummer, other releases featuring him that I’ve covered have largely been more about his abilities as an electronic musician / sound artist. He is hugely effective in both roles here.

Klakegg also shines throughout, demonstrating his facility and versatility on both electric and acoustic guitar and contributing several stand out solos.

Likewise Slettevoll, who appears less frequently but exhibits similar qualities on both acoustic piano and electric keyboards.

The music on “Wow And Flutter” is rooted in fusion and as such won’t appeal to all jazz listeners but it’s still an album capable of reaching out to a broad constituency. Adventurous rock listeners, including prog fans, should also find much to enjoy here.


COMMENTS:

From Terje Evensen via email;


Thank you so much for the review of Terje Gewelt’s album!
Very grateful for the amount of detail you put into it - very quotable, which we will certainly make use of.
Thanks again and all the best
 


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