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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tord Gustavsen Trio's Changing Places on ECM (2003)

While thanking my brother... aehm... friend, Giorgio for hinting this shining gem... here is a review I found on the matter:
"TORD GUSTAVSEN TRIO Changing Places (ECMCD1834)

No, I had never heard of Tord Gustavsen before, either, but it is obvious we are going to hear a lot more of this singular Norwegian pianist. So much wonderful music has been made using the piano/bass/drums combination - so much on this same label, from the likes of Keith Jarrett, Marilyn Crispell, John Taylor and Paul Bley - that one would doubt a new pianist could come along who immediately sounds so utterly distinctive and arresting.
Gustavsen is all that and more. Each and every touch on the keyboard is not just a note being struck, but a carefully sculpted sound of almost breathtaking passion and beauty.
The titles, like the opening and the gorgeous - which is revisited even more alluringly (if that is possible) later in the set - may look soppy on paper, but they become entirely apposite upon hearing the music. We are not talking about watercolour washes and limp gestures here: Gustavsen and his fellow Norwegians (bassist Harald Johnsen and drummer Jarle Vespestad) breathe some soul and fire into everything they do, even as they assiduously leave out all but the most vital notes to tell their entrancing stories.
All compositions are by Gustavsen, and each is a different mode of seduction: has flecks of gospel; boasts an improvisation so rapturous I think I experienced a moment's levitation; is one of those to prove Johnsen can solo with comparable ardour to the leader, and is later revisited as a delightful solo-piano conclusion to the album; has a sly bounce to it.
The longest piece, , has a melody that Beethoven may have been proud to pen, against which the brushes sigh and the bass hums contentedly, until Johnsen takes another fervent, moving solo. On Vespestad implies the barest outline of a rhythm - like seeing a silhouette in a half light - while piano and bass fill in exquisite details.
The accumulative effect could be described as aural love-making, and, indeed, Gustavsen has referred to "the eroticism of improvisation" and the "subtle funkiness" of his music. This is bad. Who needs critics when artists can sum up their own music so aptly? I'll just add that it is unreservedly recommended as one of the key releases of the year.

John Shand
Sydney Morning Herald

Also thanking John Shand for his essay, let me point it out the following...

Someone who wasn't named above is the noblest of noble, Bill Evans' trio with Motian and LaFaro, the highest peak in this unforgiving, superb, yet humble, unassuming art: jazz trio.

The disk on ECM is this good, pals... give it a try.

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