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Frode Gjerstad
Nick Stephens
Louis Moholo-Moholo

1. The Nature 11:41
2. The Gist 17:56
3. The Whatness 18:53
4. The Essence 11:37

Artwork and photography Fay Stephens

Loose Torque LT019 Category

“very much in the European free improv tradition, in which the intensity of the interaction between the musicians is key, with the sounds created on the spot with an immediacy and directness that almost goes against the natural flow you would expect from any music.

The album’s title Quiddity refers to the very nature of things, the commonality of characteristics that makes an object what it is, and what it shares with others of the same group.

The more abstract a description, the more elements it shares with others, the more you come to total unity. So it can be both a musical as spiritual thing. The music is abstract, starting on the first track, “The Nature”, with high-pitched short, almost whistling notes of the alto, with equally pointillistic support from bass and drums, evolving over very agitated and nervous playing on the second piece, “The Gist”, and strangely enough the third track, “The Whatness”, ends in longer notes, stretched tones, a concept which is continued on the last track, “The Essence”, on which Gjerstad switches to clarinet; a piece which becomes almost intimate, fragile. Obviously each track is more varied than described here, with the necessary shifts in tempo and intensity. I focus too much on Gjerstad while describing the above: the quality of the playing and the unity displayed by the three musicians is absolutely excellent. Stephens is fast, deep, versatile and precise on arco and plucked, and Moholo-Moholo’s rumbling and sharp polyrhythmics are as much defining the music. And that is abstract in nature and form. And free. And one.” Stef freejazz

“Only rarely this writer has appreciated such a refined demonstration of insightful drumming like the one Moholo-Moholo gifts us with here, holding the horses at all times but still able to etch the trio’s overall image with the incisiveness typical of master instrumentalists. Stephens pushes and pulls, fighting a little then embracing the rotundity of his bass to buy some precious time, generating snapping vibrancy, arco fibers and unaccommodating vamps as the lone temporary implementer of hypothetical schemes amidst the general autonomy. Gjerstad safeguards the dissident aspects of reed-based linearity, fragments and spurts always managing to sound somewhat poetic, devoid as they are of trendy pollutions and easy solutions.” Massimo Ricci – Touching Extremes
See full review at http://touchingextremes.wordpress.com/2011/08/07/loose-torque-quintet

The four pieces here are all free improvisations, ranging from 10 to 20 minutes. Moholo-Moholo is noted for his relentless circular patterns, time-heavy but open, in his own groups or those with fellow South African expats in the 1970s and 1980s. Here, his approach is more subtly woven, meandering and barely visible enclosures that map and follow Gjerstad’s reeds and the pluck and scrape of Stephens’ bass. But there’s regularity to the soft pitter-patter on The Nature, a whack on the snare every few revolutions keeping the trio in forward motion as Gjerstad’s clarinet burbles and flits and Stephens’ calluses write short, wandering poems.

“A dangerous tug imbues the leader’s alto opening The Gist, shrieks and harrowing dives matching Moholo-Moholo’s needling march as the bassist’s oomph alternates between manhandled clusters and bowed filigree. Gjerstad’s meaty, wide vibrato leaps and swaggers, buoyed by the drummer’s press rolls and here-and-gone swells of action. In a sense, the music might seem sparse, but the constant and telepathic activity between Gjerstad, Stephens and Moholo-Moholo makes for an environment of concentrated tension and occasional exuberant release—as in the choppy walk emerging toward the close of The Gist.”
Clifford Allen, All About Jazz