Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen makes a sombre musical statement with his new quartet and his new album The Well, whose mood was no doubt influenced by the loss of compatriot bassplayer Harald Johnsen, from the original Tord Gustavsen Trio, to a heart attack last year. Going from trio to quartet with the inclusion of Tore Brunborg on tenor saxophone to the group there’s more scope for exploring melodic possibilities. Brunborg’s voicing and phrasing beautifully approximates human singing over the album such as the breathy humming sound he creates to accompany the funeral-esque piano movement on Prelude. On Playing, the drums lead in with a soft syncopated groove before Gustavsen teases with minor melodic leads while the double bass strings jangle like rubber bands, imparting a loungey middle eastern feel. Much of the album maintains the dark and minor feel, though it’s not all doom and gloom- the track Circling has a real blues and soul feel and hints at brighter days as does On Every Corner. As for the playing, there’s great emotion in the delivery and the rhythm section of Eilertsen an Vespestad on double bass and drums maintain discernible grooves keeping the piano and sax in check- indeed less is more for the sake of mood and atmosphere. The Well is a beautifully haunting album and if you take the time it’s certain to move you.