[Apollon Records, 2022]
Intro: Giannis Zavradinos
The Norwegian scene in recent years has proven to be a force to be reckoned within the artistic renaissance of progressive rock. It holds the recipe for success in producing and promoting high quality releases, with musicians who gain fame and status with their very first recordings, convincing listeners and critics to follow them in every endeavor. The most remarkable and admirable element is how the predominantly improvisational nature of the Norwegian scene does not affect its popularity, on the contrary it enhances it by encouraging all those bands. Gaute Storsve Trio is such a group and it’s time to review their second album, four years after the excellent Attention: This Is Not A Toy, For Adult Collectors Only.
Scandinavian latin jazz jusion groove
We first met Gaute Storsve though Weserbergland alongside Ketil Vestrum Einarsen, where he stood out from a multitude of participating artists. His jazz sensibilities were soon manifested by creating his own trio. The excellent debut Attention: This Is Not A Toy, For Adult Collectors Only (2018) impressed us and was a promise of a better sophomore album. This year El Gran Gotzilla was released, a record with a dominant Latin flavor and interesting participations of notable artists, first and foremost that of Angel Terry Domech who plays on several Buena Vista Social Club releases.
El Gran Gotzilla opens with the melancholic Las dos Fridas (inspired by Frida Kahlo’s painting of the same name), with Storsve’s smooth guitar delivering a clean and round tone something we will encounter throughout the album. The orchestration in ¿Nada? Never! expands with saxophone and violin and their sweet interactions, where the latter is reminiscent of Stephane Grappelli. Latin with swing edges with brio and emotion. Apart from the atmospheric Einar and Beta Batá Beat with a relaxed rhythmic structure where the percussions act as a reinforcement even in their melodic development, there are also intense jazz-rock moments with electricity and dynamics generously offered by the saxophonist Jørgen Mathisen – known mainly from the great Krokofant – and the rhythmic duo of Petter Barg keeping the whole ensemble together with his bass, while Henning Carlsen’s drumming is full of technique and temperament. It’s amazing how Storsve manages to adapt his playing according to the needs of each track, with sensitivity and lyricism or explosiveness and roughness. Besides, the production is really exemplary, a typical feature of a Norwegian release.
El Gran Gotzilla maintains a perfect balance between the Latin temperament and the Scandinavian discipline. Even when the dynamics and balances change either to one side or to the other, it is done in a controlled manner resulting in it sounding accessible without missing the improvisational mood. Essence is the main goal, but there is always room for something different, something exotic. The music here is really sophisticated, but it never ceases to impress through the interaction of remarkable musicians who give their best for a common goal. It’s hard to single out any track since each shows its own personality and autonomy through homogeneity, musically and orchestrally. So it doesn’t take many listens to conclude that it is one of the most interesting releases of the year.
8 / 10
Gaute Storsve, assisted by bassist Petter Barg and drummer Henning Carlsen, releases his second album as Gaute Storsve Trio, and continues exactly where he had left off in the band’s very remarkable debut. Apart from the three musicians, additional guest musicians participate, and their playing becomes indispensable. Those who follow the talented guitarist and composer know what not to expect: the experimental nature and phase of Weserbergland is not the Trio’s aesthetic hallmark. The underlying priority in El Gran Gotzilla is the production of Latin jazz, performed and delivered as it should be. So once again we have songs, the compositional beauty of which stands inseparable without the need for lyrics, songs in which aspects of the musical development of the American continent are unified, from 19th century Afro-Cuban jazz to modern jazz. The compositions bear the Cuban artistic spirit, a result of Storsve’s long stay in Cuba. Technically, everything is perfectly given, while the compositional level is very high, and it’s really hard to find a weak piont. From the groovy rhythmic jazz tracks The Lucha Libre Lullaby and El Gran Gotzilla to the melancholic masterpiece Einar and the theatrical aesthetic of ¿Nada? Never! to the West African tempo of Beta Batá Beat and Las dos Fridas, the record flows perfectly.
8 / 10