Terje Gewelt ‘Wow and Flutter’ (Resonant Music) 4/5

Raised in Larvik, a small town on the southeastern coast of Norway, Terje Gewelt started playing guitar at the age of ten, before switching to bass at the age of fourteen. From 1979-81, he studied privately with the internationally recognized Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen, and as “Wow and Flutter”, Gewelt’s twelfth release as band leader, is my first experience of Gewelt’s music, I find instant comparisons with Andersen easy to make. Perhaps not necessarily in the bassist’s style, although comparisons can be made, but more so in mood and approach to composing. Gewelt moved to the States in 1981, moving back to Norway at the end of that decade. He has appeared on over a hundred recordings, including the likes of Billy Cobham, John Surman, Misha Alperin, Tommy Smith, Santana and Donny McCaslin. His music does have a truly international feel to it, with influences running rife throughout, both from the Nordic sound of his homeland, and the heady jazz-fusion American era from the likes of Miles Davis and Weather Report.

The album features ten tunes, all originals. The opening track “Time Travels” gets me in the mood right away. A driving bass line, reminding me of bassist Dave Holland, with whom Gewelt also had private tuition, linking beautifully with laid-back keyboards (Erlend Slettevoll), classy drumming (Terje Evensen) and warm, rich, inventive guitar playing (Bjorn Klakegg). “Ups and Downs” is a gorgeous piece of music. I could easily be listening to a 70’s/80’s era ECM release from Eberhard Weber and Pat Metheny. Jazz-funk-rock fusion is the order of the day for “Leaving Town”, whilst “Iskanten” takes a much more reflective mood. Subtle electronics and acoustic piano combine wonderfully for this lovely thought-provoking tune. Gewelt also took lessons from the legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius. And “Crosstalk” is indeed very Jaco. The tune itself develops into a Weather Report style fusion, but with Hendrix-like guitar hues, rather than the eponymous Zawinal keyboards. We are on Nordic ground with “Seafarer”, a more relaxed, emotive piece that once again would be very at home on the ECM label. The title track, “Wow and Flutter” is more experimental in nature, with a deep groove from drums/electronics and bass underpinning the improvisational guitar work. “Melancholy Blue” has a graceful air to it, refreshing in its spacey, minimalistic feel. “Raw Air” takes a more in-your-face approach with screeching guitar and bluesy riff-led bass and drums backing. The closing track “Gone Sailing” is a cosy, easy-going piece that rounds the album off in very nice fashion.

There’s much to like about “Wow and Flutter”, an album of changing tides and different shores, all rolled into one very enjoyable album. Whatever the style of music this quartet turn their hand to, its resulting music is performed with a skill and integrity that can’t fail to impress.

Mike Gates