Innovative Norwegian quartet brings their unorthodox improv to Constellation | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Innovative Norwegian quartet brings their unorthodox improv to Constellation 

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click to enlarge Frode Gjerstad

Frode Gjerstad

Judith S.

A rattling combination of jazz and unfettered freedom will be unleashed at Constellation when Norwegian reedist Frode Gjerstad arrives with a quartet replete with a pair of bassists. It’s always convenient to contextualize a performer within a national scene or genre, but Gjerstad has long had connections to improvisers in the UK and the U.S. (including local percussionist Hamid Drake) and is able to adroitly navigate just about any collective. The saxophonist frequently performs alongside drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and bassist Jon Rune Strøm, both of whom have been known to frequent the Windy City. That trio, augmented by trombonist Steve Swell, recently released a live album called Bop Stop (Clean Feed), featuring four adamantly impromptu works which they recorded at the Cleveland venue of the same name in 2017. “Pop Bop” brims with squiggles and thuds courtesy of Rune Strøm, who’s given more than ample space on a bandstand crowded with elder performers. He ekes out some ecstatic proclamations while engaged with Nilssen-Love’s clattering backdrop; Gjerstad and Swell still manage to find brief, flowery moments of harmony amid the vortex. Rounding out the group for the local gig is bassist Øyvind Storesund, who’s been performing with Gjerstad since the 90s. With such an unorthodox lineup, the bandleader’s penchant for explosive spontaneity should be met head-on by sympathetic players challenged and inspired by his frenetic display.   v

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