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Eivind Opsvik: Overseas II

Norwegian bassist Eivind Opsvik and his Overseas band deliver a sequel to their 2003 debut. Opsvik gives steady support to a set that consists almost entirely of his warm, pop-informed music. On “Planned Future,” for example, drummer Jeff Davis, Opsvik and tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby edge closer and closer to ragged free improv, even as Jacob Sacks maintains a dreamy triplet-pattern melody on the celeste to the very end. As with much of Opsvik’s music, the satisfying and simple “Still the Tiger Town” rests on an easy, two-chord swing and a pairing of two keyboardists-Sacks on celeste again and Craig Taborn on Hammond organ-as Malaby returns for another smeary tenor solo. Opsvik varies the program with a few short vignettes and some free-ish passages, but an overall impression of sameness remains.

Tone Collector finds the bassist in a more open and occasionally more aggressive setting. Malaby and Davis also appear in this collective trio, which was recorded live in Sweden. In one notable sense, this recording is the opposite of the bassist’s ensemble turn. This trio traffics in free improv, skronk and buzz, and the musicians slip little scraps of ballad, melody and postbop into the mix when it behooves them. Davis and Opsvik give Malaby’s scraping tenor a lurching, garage-rock gait on “Never Removed From Box.” “Swedish Summer” obscures a ballad melody with fields of drone and buzz. Skip to “Waltz Coda,” though, and you’ll find the familiar, reserved Opsvik sawing quietly at his bass while saxophonist Malaby and drummer Davis rage away. The sound isn’t great, and there are plenty of dead spots, but they’re certainly off-set by some creative moments.

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