TORD GUSTAVSEN PIANO
With the release of his first recording in 2003 entitled Changing Places, Norway's Tord Gustavsen came forth with a new and unique sound that commanded worldwide attention, an extraordinary achievement given the rich and well-developed history of jazz piano that preceded him. He focuses on lyricism within a stripped-down approach to music, where playing is gentle, yet robust; expression of melody is simple, yet sophisticated; and beauty and emotional intensity are united. He writes much of his group's material, memorable compositions that echo his days playing in church as well as his time with classical music, Scandinavian folk music and jazz.
The release of his eighth album for ECM Records,The Other Side, marks his return to the piano trio with arrangements of J.S. Bach chorales and traditional Scandinavian hymns. Joining him are bassist Sigurd Hole and his long-standing collaborator and drummer Jarle Vespestad. The elements of Gustavsen's work remain intact -- a paradoxical blend of simplicity, quietude, and sensuality built on the hymns of his youth, a Nordic kind of blues, and an instinct for composition. With the passage of a decade of creativity, he has come full circle to the piano trio but with a new perspective that, as ever, moves his music forward.
"The new album retains what first drew so many people to Gustavsen: mesmerizing hush; sublimated urgency; spare melodic grace. It also reveals 11 years of creative evolution. He no longer plays only originals. Now his program includes Norwegian folk and church music and Bach. He now uses electronics (selectively), and is (selectively) freer, more modal, and louder.
"In his sensitive precise touch and his knowledge of how silence deepens melody, he has always been able to lay bare the most private emotions. When you listen to him, it is always a revelation to discover that those emotions have been felt by someone other than yourself."
THOMAS CONRAD, STEREOPHILE (USA)
"There are an infinite number of piano trios. But seldom does one stand out from the crowd with a special sound. Pianist Tord Gustavsen, restrained, melodic double bass player Sigurd Hole, and drummer Jarle Vespestad make such an exception."
PATRICK BEBELAAR, AUDIO MAGAZINE (GERMANY)
"... Gustavsen's lyrical soloing captures a range of indelible emotion, his notes soaring and tumbling with grace. The trio's ability to capture doubt, joy and anxiety with a few notes is breathtaking." (Four stars)
ANDREW JONES, DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE (USA)
"It's chamber jazz, and church jazz, and sitting alone on a lakeshore jazz. There are a lot of piano trios out there, and it's no small thing to stand out from the crowd by being quieter, more reflective and less showy. Gustavsen has done that from the start.
"The 12 tracks on The Other Side include several originals; Scandinavian hymns in new arrangements by Gustavsen; a tune by 19th century Danish composer, organist and folklorist Ludvig Mathias Linderman; and Gustavsen's versions of three Bach chorales. Touched with delicate electronics, the music is profound, intimate, elevating and grooving -- the latter most notably in Bach's Schlafes Bruder (The Brother of Sleep), a song about death and what comes after. you can almost dance to it."
PAMELA ESPELAND, MINN POST (USA)
"Music like this is what happens when the improvisational sensibility turns toward the European musical tradition. In Gustavsen's hands, it's a mine of musical inspiration as rich as that upon which the great American jazz tradition rests."
ALAN O'RIORDAN, IRISH EXAMINER (IRELAND)
THE TUNNEL (EXCERPT RECORDED LIVE) - FROM THE OTHER SIDE
MONTAGE OF SELECTIONS FROM NEW TRIO RELEASE THE OTHER SIDE
BEING THERE - PERFORMED LIVE AT KULTURKIRKEN JAKOB
WHERE WE WENT - FROM THE ALBUM BEING THERE
CAME SO FAR FOR BEAUTY / TEARS TRANSFORMING (LEONARD COHEN, TORD GUSTAVSEN) LIVE AT THE BBC