Gard Nilssen’s Supersonic Orchestra - If You Listen Carefully The Music Is Yours [Odin - 2020]
Gard Nilssen is a Norwegian jazz drummer and composer, born in 1983 in the town of Skien. He has played in bands Bushman’s Revenge and Puma but has also collaborated with a wide range of artists on a variety of different projects. If You Listen Carefully… is his first solo project, and what he has put together for this release is an impressive sixteen person ensemble. One of the first things you notice is that every member of the band is listed as a percussionist, three including Nilssen are listed as drummers, there are three double bass players and the remaining ten are all reed or brass players. With such an unusual lineup it feels most appropriate to dig straight into the music. The album was recorded live at the Molde International Jazz Festival in 2019, and I have to say it really packs a punch. Opener "Premium Processing Fee" is an up-tempo number that drives along and really sets things up nicely. A powerful reminder that the album features quite the rhythm section. That rhythm section is once again evident in "Botteknot/Elastic Circle", underpinning the whole thing and allowing member of the ensemble to stretch out from time to time. The mixture of structured and free jazz works perfectly here. "Teppen Dance" is up next and after some top notch double bass histrionics, things get underway around four and a half minutes in. This is a wholly mellower and more reflective piece with saxophones taking centre stage. "The City of Roses" is next and after a percussive workout gets things underway, we are treated to some saxophone before the double bass takes centre stage again. The track really does go all over the place stylistically but it highlights the flexibility of the band’s lineup. "Jack" is predominantly another double bass workout across its first half before the rest of the band kick in taking the tempo up a notch in the process. Final track "Bytta Bort Kua Fikk Fela Igjen" is an epic thirteen minutes long and takes the listener on a bit of a ride, changing tempo on numerous occasions, however the whole thing is built around a really strong Latin rhythm that keeps returning as a central motif.
Overall, this is a pretty glorious slice of jazzy goodness, from a powerful ensemble that works perfectly together. The tracks are addictive and the performances are exceptional, I very much look forward to hearing more from them in the future.Darren Charles