COMPOSERS: Esbjörn Svensson Trio
PERFORMER: Esbjörn Svensson (p, ky), Dan Berglund (b), Magnus Öström (d, perc)
CATALOGUE NO: 9009-2 (distr. Proper)
As American jazz has become increasingly inward-looking, with more and more musicians inhabiting the styles and methods of articulation of posthumous masters, there has also come a failure to acknowledge that its stewardship is no longer an exclusive American preserve. That the cutting edge can live on without necessarily inhabiting volatile experimentation is hardly new, and Svensson’s trio, while being darkly lyrical are also fiercely contemporary.
Unafraid to do the unexpected – the arresting opening of ‘Somewhere Else Before’, the intricate jazz-rock of ‘Do the Jangle’, or the sonic electronics swimming through ‘Last Letter from Lithuania’ reveal how Svensson remains untroubled by our received notions of how the piano trio in jazz is supposed to ‘sound’. Using a crafty mix of electronic and acoustic sounds on the title track and ‘Spam-Boo-Limbo’ to telling effect, their originality never obscures their profound lyricism, a shared responsibility that applies equally to piano, bass and drums.
There is great humanity in their music, often played with an intense yet unhurried lyricism – their version of ‘Pavane: Thoughts of a Septuagenarian’, for example, is enough to make their more highly praised prolix American contemporaries appear marooned in a renascent timewarp. Stuart Nicholson