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The Gig: Tone Collector

The bassist and composer Eivind Opsvik has been at his craft for some time. Born in 1973, Opsvik spent his teens and early 20s working in and around the experimental scene of his native Oslo, Norway. In 1998 he moved to New York City and fell in with a cadre of free-thinking peers, some of whom ended up on his 2003 solo debut, Overseas (Fresh Sound). Somehow I missed that album, despite its warm reception in almost every pertinent publication. I knew Opsvik as a sideman, and had been hearing cryptic rumors about an electronics project he had with guitarist Aaron Jennings. But his music wasn’t on my radar, in any meaningful way, until sometime last year.

What prompted my awakening was a sort of critical mass: 2005 saw the release not only of Overseas II (Fresh Sound New Talent) but also the long-awaited Opsvik & Jennings electro-jazz album (Floyel Files, NCM East) and a raw free-jazz outing with tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby and drummer Jeff Davis (Tone Collector, Jazzaway). Taken one by one, these albums are impressive enough; together, their impact multiplies. They might be the most imaginative album trilogy of the year.

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Originally Published
Nate Chinen

Nate Chinen

Nate Chinen is the director of editorial content for WBGO and a longtime contributor to JazzTimes, which published 125 installments of his column “The Gig” between 2004 and 2017. For 12 years, he was a critic for The New York Times; prior to that, he wrote about jazz for the Village Voice, the Philadelphia City Paper, and several other publications. He is the author of Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century (2018) and the co-author of George Wein’s autobiography Myself Among Others: A Life in Music (2003).