Frode Gjerstad

Sharp Knives Cut Deeper

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Frode Gjerstad is a bit of an anomaly: He hails from Norway, but his unfettered in-your-face free improvisational approach is closer stylistically to the Middle European or American avant-garde than to anything emanating from his homeland. Thus it is little surprise that he invited Peter Brötzmann, one of the roughest and toughest of them all, and someone with whom Gjerstad has performed and recorded previously, to join him for this live performance with the Scandinavian's regular trio. The collaboration results in some of Gjerstad's best performances on disc. He seems inspired by Brötzmann's intensity, and elevated to pursue focused lines of considerable depth. The variety of horns (alto and tenor saxophones, various clarinets, and taragato) adds to the interest, making it much more than two saxes blasting away. The volume level, too, is pleasantly varied, and even though these completely free improvisations are devoid of anything approaching melody, they are nonetheless less muscular (though not necessarily less appealing) than most of Brötzmann's recordings as a leader. Sometimes the saxes solo together, and sometimes they perform alone, but each of the four "parts" of the "suite" is a good introduction to Gjerstad, who impresses with sophisticated and surprisingly nuanced blowing. Brötzmann is in full bloom with a stunning performance on the final track that is among his finest on disc.

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