Album Review of

Written by Robert Silverstein
January 8, 2022 - 12:51am EST
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The spirit of instrumental jazz-rock is alive and well and living in the grooves on Gladiator – the 2021 CD by bass ace Per Mathisen and keyboard ace Jan Gunnar Hoff, backed up here by drummer Gary Novak. Mathisen and Hoff are two of the finest jazz players in Norway and the Chicago-born Gary Novak keeps the drum sound front and center on the highly entertaining Gladiator. Gladiator was released on the Norway-based Losen Records label. One look at Losen’s vast catalog of jazz album titles proves that the album is in good company. All the tracks here are originals except for the title track, which was originally composed by soundtrack genius Hans Zimmer for the movie of the same name.

Liner notes by Per Mathisen sheds light on the impact of the worldwide pandemic on the timing and purposefulness of the 8-track, 42-minute Gladiator. Luckily the album, which started at the end of 2019, finally saw its release in 2021. The sonic interplay between composers Per Mathisen and Jan Gunnar Hoff is excellent with their respective bass and keyboard sounds take out are peppered by all sorts of electronics and effects and pedals. Gary Novak’s driving beat keeps the action packed with rhythmic dexterity. While ostensibly jazz, the variety of electric sounds brings Gladiator well into the realm of jazz-rock fusion.