Frode Gjerstad Trio - The Other Side

Tom Greenland, AllAboutJazz

If you're looking for action in creative music downtown, it's a sure bet bassist William Parker will be somewhere in the vicinity. Three new releases that include the venerated veteran show him to be busier than ever, in close collaboration with just a few of his wide circle of musical friends.

The Other Side is a trio offering with Chicagoan Hamid Drake on drums and Norway's Frode Gjerstad on alto saxophone. Gjerstad is not as well known stateside, but he's one of - if not the - top cats in his country's free music scene. He has hooked up with his musical heroes, Hamid and Parker, as far back as 1997, recording two notable sides in 1998, Ultima and Remember to Forget.

The latest recording comes from a 2000 date in Chicago. Compared with some of Gjerstad's other outings, this one is more grounded in groove:
"First Cut" features the altoist in extended extemporization over Parker's walking bass in a medium-swing tempo. The title track has a bit of jamband R&B feel, with Drake on frame drum and Parker on a breathy flute.
"The Ballade" is more pensive and exploratory, with many episodes, lumbering along like a groggy bear stretching his legs after a long hibernation. The closer, "The Duo", is simultaneously energetic and wispy, the sax spinning out chain-link melodies in Ornette-esque fashion.