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#48 on Jazz Week Jazz Chart
September 20, 2002



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Chris Dundas 
Reviews
 
All About Jazz

What's up with Oslo, Norway? Two of the outstanding recordings of 2014 have come out of the city: pianist Paul Bley's Play Blue (ECM Records), and now Los Angeles-based pianist Chris Dundas' Oslo Odyssey (BLM Records).

Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen, an ECM Records mainstay, as a sideman and leader, is the senior member of the quartet Dundas assembled. His presence is huge. Dundas hoped to achieve a sound and atmosphere with this set similar to pianist Keith Jarrett's Scandinavian Quartet, featuring saxophonist Jan Garbarek. He succeeded with a cinematic and spacious sound that also recalls Andersen's 1970s quartet recordings on ECM Records.

The cover art and the sound of Oslo Odyssey: the translucence spaciousness, the clarity, the ephemeral, dream-like quality of the compositions - all Dundas originals, with the exception of pianist Denny Zeitlin's beautiful "Quiet Now," on disc 1; all group improvisations on disc 2 - and the cinematic scope of the overall work of art would fit right in with what is called the "ECM aesthetic."

Along with Anderson, Dundas is joined by two more Norwegian players - drummer Patrice Heral and saxophonist Bendik Hofseth. The sound they create is mystical and luminescent. There are moments of subtle electronic drone (from Anderson and Heral) acting as a backdrop to the the most delicate and measured - yet spontaneous sounds. Time seems suspended, or rendered without meaning.

Disc 1, as previously mentioned, features Dundas composed music. In-the-moment improvisation is a huge part of this package. Arild Andersen solos like no other bassist alive - sharp, succinct notes perfectly situated inside the transparent and exquisite comping. And then the quartet takes that art of inspired spontaneity to the next level on Disc 2, beginning with the astonishingly gorgeous 23 minute "Pilgrimage," and on into the the closer, "Full Circle," that begins with Bendik Hofseth's holy notes, a saxophone prayer leading into Dundas disjointed sounds - a wind chime piano - before the quartet gels into an unexpectedly wicked, danceable groove, with saxophonist Hofseth growling demonically.

This is a quartet set of the highest order. Music at its very best.

Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz
Bop-N-Jazz

"Chris Dundas goes global with an all star line up and staggering results!

Chris Dundas released his critically acclaimed debut roughly fourteen years ago. Since then, Dundas took the time to ensure there would be no let down in creativity. Combined with the arduous task of saving the money necessary for a quality recording and the well documented trials and tribulations of the music industry, a funny thing happened on the way to the studio. A somewhat conceptualized release, Dundas draws on the inspiration from Keith Jarrett's Scandinavian Quartet from thirty five years ago. To complete his harmonic journey he recruited Oslo's premier bassist Arild Andersen and his drummer Patrice Heral while rounding out this most formidable 4tet with tenor saxophonist Bendik Hofseth.

There is an organic warmth that permeates this stellar recording as the disc is presented in the order in which the compositions were recorded and with an open ended spatial exploration of improvisational conversations. Walking the harmonic tightrope in this setting can be fraught with peril yet Dundas makes the journey seem effortless. The contemplative mood of "Great Pacific Garbage Patch Waltz" bookends well with Denny Zeitlin's "Quiet Now" which embraces that three dimensional spatial quality, a zen like approach where no notes are wasted. The dynamics evolve within themselves as both tempo and corresponding mood shift on the fly. "Pilgrimage" is a full contact blowing piece yet utilizes the harmonic space left free by each contributor.

The presentation is varied in meter and execution yet the musical co-conspirators are able to get in and get out without getting in each others way. The chemistry here while certainly left of center is lyrically undeniable. To compare the sound to performers from another label can be difficult but for those familiar with the history of ECM, think of this as ECM all grown up."

L.A. Jazz Scene

"While interpreting Keith Jarrett's "So Tender," unaccompanied, Dundas exhibits the lyrical sense of melody and harmony that prove to be his greatest strengths. As a singer would caress each line and impart contextual meaning, he phrases the ballad in such a way that we can clearly appreciate the song's purpose."

Jim Santella, L.A. Jazz Scene
L.A. Jazz Scene

"Dundas has an inexhaustible supply of interesting piano chords and right hand combinations that were a joy to listen to."

Glenn A. Mitchell, L.A. Jazz Scene
Cadence Magazine

"A pianist whose style is a branch of that great bushy tree with its roots in Bill Evans...is aggressive and probing." "Autumn Leaves gets a surprisingly abstract treatment. Dundas offers some fine lyrical - without being overtly sentimental - piano and Sheppard blows exploratory saxophone that probes the edges of the tune's harmonies."

Dave Dupont, Cadence Magazine
All Music Guide

AMG Rating: ****

"The variety of the compositions and the many moods make this CD consistently of strong interest. Well worth checking out."

Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
Los Angeles Times

"It is a wonderful example of small group jazz, and a worthy addition to your collection. I heartily recommend it."

Paul Andersen, Los Angeles Times