May 18, 2024

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Tord Gustavsen had already been an important part of the Norwegian jazz scene for several years: Video

05.10. – Happy Birthday !!! Pianist Tord Gustavsen has released eight albums on ECM Records with his ensemble and trio; “Changing Places” (2003), “The Ground” (2005), “Being There” (2007), “Restored, Returned” (2009/2010), “The Well” (2012); “Extended Circle” (2014); “What was said” (2016); and “The Other Side” (2018). His music has been met by a huge volume of critical approval around the world. He has won the Norwegian Grammy Award (Spellemannsprisen) and numerous other awards and prizes.

After playing primarily in trio format for several years, Tord launched his new project, Tord Gustavsen Ensemble, in 2008 with a commissioned work for the Vossajazz Festival in Norway, followed by a new recording in 2009. In 2011-2015, the quartet was Tord’s major touring ensemble formation, alongside duo and trio formats with the musicians in the ensemble. He did extended projects with Kristin Asbjørnsen and Susanna Wallumrød joining the ensemble on vocals, with Cecilie Jørstad doing spoken word, and with Nils Økland on fiddle/violin. In 2016, the ensemble was supplmented with a new, alternative trio featuring Afghan-German singer Simin Tander and Jarle Vespestad on drums, for album release and extensive touring.

In 2018, it was again time to release an album in piano trio format, featuring bass player Sigurd Hole and drummer Jarle Vespestad. While relating to his first trilogy of trio albums, Tord’s new album also integrates subtle electronics, and it paradoxically sounds both deeper, darker and more open than the first trio did.

Before starting his solo career, Tord had already been an important part of the Norwegian jazz scene for several years. His playing has formed a cornerstone in projects featuring some of the finest Norwegian singers, including Solveig Slettahjell, Silje Nergaard, Siri Gjære, and Kristin Asbjørnsen. The urge for individual expression fuses with acutely attentive listening in creative interplay, making Tord a very special experience both as a soloist and as an ensemble player. While relating to fields like Scandinavian folk music, gospel, Caribbean music and cool jazz alike, Tord’s ensembles present a unique universe of lyricism and subtle funkiness. His way of melding jazz history with ‘Nordic’ reflective moods and lyrical beauty brings about an intriguing voice on today’s music scene.

Tord tours extensively world-wide with his projects (cf. Live). He can be heard on several albums; in addition to his own releases there are releases with Solveig Slettahjell, Kristin Asbjørnsen, Mahsa Vahdat, Silje Nergaard, the Nymark Collective, the Ulrich Drechsler Quartet, Carl Petter Opsahl, and the duo aire & angels.

Tord Gustavsen, the lyrical and scholarly Oslo-born pianist, got big with a blend of pensive improv and Norwegian hymns, but lately he has moved closer to jazz.

This album, however, finds him returning to simple songs with religious roots, and to collaboration with a remarkable singer (he has previously worked with compatriots Solveig Slettahjell and Silje Nergaard) in the tender-toned German-Afghan Simin Tander. Tander sings Norwegian traditionals and hymns in Pashto, and Beat icon Kenneth Rexroth’s stark renewal poem I Refuse and Persian sufi mystic Rumi’s writings in English, while Gustavsen gradually adds melodic embroidery, glimpsed grooves and electronics, with Jarle Vespestad’s fragile percussion the only other instrumental sound. The set occasionally suggests an early Gustavsen band spliced with Susannah and the Magical Orchestra, and the mixture of the instrumentalists’ distilled reflections with Tander’s palette of hummed tones, sighing note-bends and pristine inflections represents a beguiling new Gustavsen collaboration.

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