Frode Gjerstad Trio - The Other Side

Tom Sekowski, Gaz-Eta

Norwegian alto player Frode Gjerstad has made a number of important recordings with everyone from Derek Bailey, John Stevens, Peter Brotzmann, Nick Stephens, Bobby Bradford to Lol Coxhill. He has also performed with the rhythm section of bassist William Parker and percussionist Hamid Drake [most notably on "Ultima" and "Remember to Forget"].

The return to this reliable rhythm section was recorded while the trio was on tour in Chicago in 2000. Perhaps it was the togetherness that was worked on during the tour, but there's a certain something about this session that makes it sound so comfortable and so loose.
Gjerstad's delivery is free but his playing is steered back on course by Parker and Drake. His alto tone is clean and crisp and even when he rivets up some jagged lines up to the sky, there is no coarse element to it.

The trio delivers especially well on a slower piece, appropriately called "The Ballade". Featuring a nice arco solo from Parker and some fine brush work from Drake, the piece lounges almost lazily, like a tourist on a beach. The title cut features some terrific bouncy rhythmic work from Drake [on the frame drum], while Parker provides some trance flute work, which is then enhanced and brought to life by Gjerstad's jumpy alto.

This is a very accessible record, allowing anyone not familiar with Gjerstad's body of work an easy entrance.