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Azure by Terje Gewelt

Acoustic and electric bassist Terje Gewelt hails from Norway, where he grew up in a small town on the southeastern coast. Starting on the guitar at the age of 10 he switched to the bass at age of 14 and never looked back. Studies with the great Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen and playing with Norwegian pianist Atle Bakken, only strengthened the young musician. Studies in the United States at the Bass Institute in Los Angeles, with Jeff Berlin and Bob Magnuson, led to playing gigs in clubs with guitarist Les Wise.

Later time spent at the Berklee College of Music helped Gewelt make musical connections still in evidence today. Among the many top-flight musicians who have called upon Gewelt’s playing to enhance their groups include Billy Cobham, Misha Alperin and Santana drummer Michael Shrieve. In all, Gewelt has played on more than 100 recordings, with Azure being his eighth as a leader. Today he lives and works the world over, out of his home in Norway.

This subtlety beautiful recording is mostly a trio affair, with Gewelt sometimes moving the group to just a duo. Joining Gewelt are Staffan William-Olsson on acoustic guitar and Alfred Janson on accordion. “Do Not Sleep Away The Summer Night” is one such duo. Working with only William-Olsson, the duo reminds one of the work Ron Carter did with Joe Pass on their famous recordings. Perfectly in sync with each other, they trapeze over lines so deftly you almost forget how hard it can be to make music this gorgeous sound simple.

The trio swings sweetly on William-Olsson’s composition, “Let Your Fingers Do The Talking.” Without a drummer an ensemble of this make must rely much more heavily on the bass lines to carry not just the rhythm but also the “bite” of swing’s character; this Gewelt does with the highest artistic aplomb. His lines are not just locked deep in the pocket with his compatriots, but the manner in which he articulates the lines with his fingers provide just the slightest percussive emphasis from which the others are able to set and react to the groove.

Gewelt’s solo, in duet with William-Olsson on “Old Folks” as just one example, demonstrates how craftily he has developed his own unique melodic style. His melodic conception employs tricky yet understated turns of phrase that are locked to the harmonic structure yet move beyond the norm. You can’t help but imagine that as Gewelt and William-Olsson were playing this section they were smiling and nodding to each other in the joy of delight that only two jazz musicians locked in deep conversation with each other can employ. This is a stellar recording that probably will go unnoticed by the general population - make sure you aren’t one of them.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Terje Gewelt
  • CD Title: Azure
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2010
  • Record Label: Resonant Music
  • Rating: Five Stars
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