Record Review - 3 October 09 2002

On first listen, the new CD by Norwegian free-jazz saxophonist Frode Gjerstad sounds familiar — but not in an especially enduring way. It isn’t until the second or third listen that The Blessing Light begins to take on a shine of its own.

Gjerstad’s trio conveys the sort of raw, sweaty, free-but-swinging quality so prevalent on the ESP label in the ’60s. The group pays a fine tribute to late Spontaneous Music Ensemble leader John Stevens on three lengthy numbers totaling over an hour, weaving in and out of some spectacular collaborative improvisation. At different moments, the album recalls the Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton Trio, Anthony Braxton with Dave Holland, and Barry Altschul.

Particularly impressive is bassist Oyving Storsund. His unique, resourceful bowing style offers a stirring reminder that after the passing of legendary bassist Peter Kowald, someone is willing to carry the torch.

The Frode Gjerstad Trio plays Eyedrum Thurs., Oct 10.??