Frode Gjerstad / Johnny Dyani / John Stevens / Eivin One Pedersen

June 15, 2017

At Club 7

NotTwo MW 953-2

By Ken Waxman

Recorded in late 1982, one week before keyboardist Eivin One Pedersen quit Detail, which had recently become a quartet when bassist Johnny Mbizo Dyani joined drummer John Stevens, Pedersen and, reedist Frode Gjerstad, At Club 7 is the only document of the band in this configuration. Although Pedersen (1956-2012) played with fellow Norwegian Gjerstad in the Calling Signals group a decade later, it appears that cooperation with Briton Stevens (1940-1990) and South African Dyani (1945-1986) didn’t work out.

Like an archeologist trying to reconstruct a creature from its fossilized bones however, listening to the nearly 57 minute improvisation 35 years afterwards offers almost no musical clues for the keyboardist’s exit. By that time the bassist and drummer had been involved with free music for a couple of decades and they added overseas legitimacy to at that was them Norway’s only purely experimental unit. But musically there’s no sense of the two grandstanding. Stevens’ power thumping relates little to the hushed group music he had pioneered with SME and more to free-flowing modern jazz. As for the bassist, especially in the introductions to “Part 2” and “Part 4” of the program his string thrusts resonate with the thickness of industrial strength rubber bands. In tandem with drum work, he locks into a groove throughout. Furthermore Dyani’s carefully placed stentorian strums provide the ballast upon which Pedersen’s often peppy phrase making stand out. While his keyboard inclination is towards a fluid amalgam of Bill Evans-Keith Jarrett swirls with only a tinge of Cecil Taylor-like kinetics, in this distinctive configuration it complements without friction Gjerstad’s overtly atonal squeezed saxophone patterning or bass clarinet braying.

Throughout, discursive asides from each of the players are decisively assembled into focused, forward motion by Dyani’s and Stevens’ team work, so that the program’s final moments are both rhythmically creative and satisfactorily conclusive. Perhaps on the evidence of his subsequent, more restrained work, Pedersen’s idea of unraveling and subsequently tying up loose ends was designing a musical garment he felt wouldn’t fit the others. In varied configurations Detail existed until Stevens’ death. Despite subsequent developments without the pianist, it’s still good to have this performance available.

Track Listing: 1. Part 1 2. Part 2 3. Part 3 4. Part 4 5. Part 5

Personnel: Frode Gjerstad (soprano and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet); Eivin One Pedersen (piano and ARP synthesizer); Johnny Mbizo Dyani (bass) and John Stevens (drums)

–For The New York City Jazz Record June 2017