Einar Iversen

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Einar Iversen is, without argument, the dean of Norwegian jazz pianists. With a career that got underway in the 1940s, he has played with top jazz figures throughout Europe, striking up a special relationship with Dexter Gordon as a result of Gordon's visits to Norway. That affiliation is remembered here with Gordon's "Ernie's Tune," written for the The Connection. The play list as a whole is a mixed one, including classic American popular standards, jazz classics by the likes of Bill Evans and John Coltrane, and some Iversen originals. The playing is also diverse. Like the general picture of Norway many people have, perhaps unfairly, "Hav og Himmel" is somber and brooding. It features the arco bass of Tine Asmundsen, which tends to give the music that dark tone. To counter, there's a delightful rendition of "My Ship," filled with surprises much like those Bill Evans would interject into well-known ballads. Also like Evans, Iversen's playing is highly lyrical with irregular phrase lengths. The trio's approach to "My Shining Hour" is somewhat novel, with the drums kicking off a faster beat than usually applied to this tune. More important, Iversen improvises swinging bop lines, having his way with the melody of this otherwise sedate piece of music. Harmonic subtleties are woven into a waltzy "Lill-Nedre Utsiktsvei 16A," which is a fitting coda to the album's delightful mix of music by a piano trio headed by a master of the art and one who deserves much greater exposure to U.S. listeners.

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