Oslo-born, New York-based bassist and composer Eivind Opsvik launched his Overseas series all the way back in 2003. An in-demand session player — he’s appeared alongside Anthony Braxton, Mary Halvorson, John Zorn, Bill Frisell, and dozens more — the Overseas project has long served as an outlet for Opsvik’s most personal material. It’s also allowed room for experimentation: his latest, Overseas V, brings his tuneful, melodic jazz into alignment with the jerking sounds of post-punk and art rock (think Talking Heads or ’80s-era King Crimson), creating an electronically-modified update on the “punk jazz” of the Lounge Lizards and James Chance and the Contortions.
Leading a band including guitarist Brandon Seabrook, saxophonist Tony Malaby, drummer Kenny Wollesen, and keyboardist Jacob Sacks, Opsvik dives into jittery funk (“I’m Up This Step,” “Brraps!”) and moody ballads (“Extraterrestrial Tantrum,” “Shoppers and Pickpockets”). The best material refuses to be put into any particular box, like “Cozy Little Nightmare,” which veers from lovely piano runs to discordant noise and back again, or the loping “First Challenge on the Road,” which balances its chopping guitars with melancholic melodies. An engaging, playful listen throughout, Opsvik’s Overseas group pulses with charm and vitality. words/j woodbury