Gordon Grdina/Gary Peacock/Paul Motian: Think Like the Waves

Gordon Grdina is a Vancouver-based guitarist who also performs on the oud, or Arabic lute. On his debut release, Think Like the Waves, he teams up with his mentor Gary Peacock on bass and Paul Motian on drums. The 14 tracks are all Grdina originals, three of which-“Renunciation,” “Morning Moon” and the title track-feature the oud in an enticing modern jazz setting. On guitar, Grdina has a dry, unadorned sound and a sparse yet weighty attack that brings Jim Hall to mind. His themes often combine straightforward triads and dissonant clusters in a single phrase, all in the service of a clear melody. The prevailing ambience is one of dark mystery, but the ruggedness of Grdina’s tone makes for a palette of rich contrast.

Apart from the opening minor-key waltz “Yellow Spot Into the Sun” and the alert 4/4 of “Combustion,” Grdina’s pieces tend toward mournful rubato reflection-“Different Places,” “Ginger Root” and “Cobble Hill” are good examples. On “Platform” and “String Quartet #6” he taps into a more agitated free-jazz feeling. “Distant” and “Albert the Monk” are satisfying jazz ballads. “Strathcona,” a guitar/bass duet, brings the album to a contemplative close.

David R. Adler

David R. Adler writes about jazz and assorted topics. His work has appeared in JazzTimes, NPR Music, WBGO.org, The Philadelphia InquirerThe Village Voice, DownBeat, Time Out New York and many other publications. From 2010-2017 he taught jazz history at the Aaron Copland School of Music (Queens College-CUNY). In summer 2017, after 30 years in New York (apart from two in Philadelphia), David relocated with his family to Athens, Georgia. There he continues to write about music and perform solo as a guitarist/vocalist.