New York-based Norwegian bassist and composer Eivind Opsvik has emerged as one of the most active, productive and acclaimed of young musicians on the city’s jazz scene. Needless to say this entails a growing stature also internationally.
In many ways Opsvik epitomizes the whole-hearted and deeply committed jazz musician whose whole existence seems to be saturated with music and guided by the ever-ongoing re-invention and improvisation that is the (existential) core of jazz.
For he is widely and constantly engaged in music, in all kinds of projects, stepping in and out of a wide array of different musical roles, from sovereign, isolated composer, to band leader, arranger and soloist.
Not least he is noticed for his qualities as composer, for, as one critic reviewing Opsvik noted: “As jazz schools continue to generate good to great improvisers, what’s still lacking is composers”
In addition to his own group and creative focus Eivind Opsvik Overseas, and the duo Opsvik and Jennings, he is part of a number of ensembles such as Binney/ Frisell, Kris Davis Quartet, Tone Collector, Jackson Moore, Sidecar, Jonathan Moritz AMALGAM, Jostein Gulbrandsen Quintet and others.
In the past he has been part of, or played with, various other acclaimed constellations in Norway, Europe and in New York.
Having moved to New York in 1998 to pursue a masters degree at the Manhattan School of Music, and take part of the city’s vibrating jazz scene, Opsvik still maintains close and constant relations with the Norwegian scene and continues to work in Norway both live and in studios. He often chooses to do parts of the recording process “back home”, for example; the upcoming Opsvik & Jennings debut is recorded in a string of different studios in the US and Norway.
With two releases already out in 2005; his Overseas project’s second outing ‘Overseas II’, and Tone Collector’s recent debut, his discography is becoming increasingly more substantial, varied and impressive.
His first recordings were the limited, cassette -released “Basement sessions”, from his basement room in Oslo (“Opsvik: Musikk fra egen kjeller”), in which he unaided plays own compositions on a string of instruments. These recordings display, at an early age, a profound commitment and love of music, and not least a will to work his way into the subject matter, not getting impatient or bored on the way to mastering the deeper layers of the enigmatic language that is music.
From that point on the ten albums by and/or with Opsvik, still only 32, is telling evidence of an unusual musical capacity.
The two Overseasrecords, entirely his own creations, have been met with critical acclaim and generous admiration across the line of jazz critics. Not least the establishment in his current home city of New York has readily embraced his art, which is often described as distinguishable by its fullness, warmth and melody, making it closer to “conceived” songs than the typical jazz structure is, and thus emphasizing Opsvik’s talent for composition. In the words of NY-Times' Ben Ratliff:
“Eivind Opsvik has an unusual gift for writing small, poignant pieces of music. The color and mood of his music, along with its rhythmic patterns, bleed over into pop, and the sound has a sheer, weightless quality”
Opsvik will be performing at various clubs and venues in NYC throughout the summer. In addition he will be appearing at the Rochester (NY) Jazz Festival, as well as going on a mini tour of Iceland with Sunna Gunnlaug Trio.