On Gravity of Love, his fourth Playscape Recordings release as a leader, veteran pianist/composer Peter Madsen presents his personal musical interpretation of the Seven Deadly Sins in a diverse seven-part suite based on Dante's Inferno. Bringing his eclectic compositions to life is his working group, the Seven Sins Ensemble, which combines a jazz quartet with a string quartet and various electronics to create its distinctive sound. This unconventional octet is a subset of Madsen's Collective of Improvising Artists (CIA), an active cooperative of diverse, Austria-based groups he founded in 2007.
|There are moments of rare beauty here, as on the melancholy ballad "Deficient Love: Indifference" and the poignant closer, "Swiss Chocolate," both featuring remarkably lyrical solos by Herbert Walser. The driving and dissonant "Excessive Love: Rage" showcases the considerable skills of drummer Alfred Vogel. The more experimental "Malicious Love: Excessive Desire" and "Excessive Love: Hubris" tap into Madsen's subversive, Sun Ra-indebted side. The strings, wildly interactive throughout, are far more than window dressing on this extraordinarily ambitious outing, which stands as Madsen's crowning achievement to date.
|— Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes
|...Madsen has done a great job of selecting strong players and writing challenging material for them. Trumpeter Herbert Walser is featured throughout and is indeed most impressive. His solos as well as the interplay between the piano and the rest of the quartet is consistently spirited and crafty...the strings and jazz quartet are well integrated into one superb ensemble...This is another gem in a month filled with many treasures.
|— Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
|Pianist/keyboardist Peter Madsen has a worthy contribution to make to the Third Stream jazz tradition. He likes rich instrumental color as much as he does jazz rhythm, and he's able to strike a balance between the two. The writing proceeds in a linear fashion with organic and often sensual movement. There's no hint of "exercise" or "sketch" in these tunes. The changing colors and the swelling and subsiding dynamics are what animates the music. Though there are numerous features, the compositions – rich in harmonic depth and rhythmic vitality – and arrangements star here.
|— Kirk Silsbee, DownBeat
|There are so many fine musical moments. Gravity of Love is built on composer Peter Madsen's reading of the Seven Deadly Sins but the music is far from doom and gloom. In fact, this music sings with creativity and lively interplay, the intelligent arrangements setting off the fine solo work. One can hear that the Seven Sins Ensemble is a real working unit and not just a studio creation. Let's hope we hear more of this band!
|— Richard Kamins, Step Tempest
|My favorite track is "Excessive Desire," a darkly glinting modal post-bop tune reminiscent of Billy Harper's style. In an amusing juxtaposition after the musical pondering of love and overindulgence, the final track, outside of the suite, is "Swiss Chocolate."
|— Steve Holtje, Culture Catch