Gisle Torvik :Tranquil Fjord
Karl Seglem: NyeSongar.no
The cover of Torvik’s Tranquil Fjord features a placid lake on the cusp of dawn, or is it dusk, the ideal metaphor for his musicianship, for – though relatively young in jazz years – he is an innovative stylist with a mature head on young shoulders.
Tranquil Fjord, released by Ozella, a truly inspirational jazz label, features Torvik on guitar, Auduan Ellingsen on bass and Hermund Nygard on drums, but there are certain trackss, Kryssande, for example, when the sound is much greater than the sum of the parts.
The eponymous Tranquil Ford opens this ten track collection with the majority coming in under five minutes, and is emblematic what you can expect from what follows: Torvik opening and leading from the front with blues-inspired solos and, on occasion, a classic arrangement in the grand European tradition.
What is unique about Torvik and indeed Gisle Torvik (producer on Tranquil Ford) is the distinctly Scandinavian sound is not diluted by looking to America. Torvik’s playing can be as cool as ice caught in afternoon sun, but he plays cat and mouse with tempo, such as on Endelaus Veg, which has the vibe of West Coast Americana, with superb interplay between the double bass and the held in check drumming.
Where Tranquil Ford succeeds on all levels is the sustainment of mood: if you like the opening track, and you will, Tranquil Ford will hold you in its spell until the end, forty two minutes later.
A tree from the same branch is NyeSongar.no by saxophonist Karl Seglem, nine tracks just coming under an hour from a sublime quartet with, to my ear, a notable contribution from Sigurd Hole on bass.
The songs bear witness to the tightness of the playing, the intimacy of a quartet at ease with itself, demonstrably so Desembersongen and Inn I juni. It has been said of Seglem that he brings to his music the three essentials you need to survive a Scandinavian winter: calm, warmth and energy.
There is about NyeSongar.no a warm fog of synergy blowing in from a sea of tranquility, as Seglem, in what is just his second album, a succesfful and endearing attempt to capture the mood of winter and the peculiar palette of snow. To that end he dovetails melody with the mystical sound of the extreme landscape of Norway. I cannot think of two better jazz albums to help you through the winter.