Currently Stenson's career has focused on that most elegant of jazz formats - the piano trio. "When you think about piano trio it is the piano leading the whole thing more or less, Stenson explained. "I never thought about those things or when we had that quartet with Garbarek for instance in the '70s I always thought that everyone should be equal in the band. The drummer should be free and do whatever he wants to and bring to the table. That table has been set in recent years by two stalwarts on the skins, Stenson's old Norwegian buddy Christensen and the seemingly-everywhere-these-days Paul Motian. "I think those two people, they have something in common very much I think. Maybe those two are the closest I think because they are totally free. Paul maybe has more tradition in him. He is history. But the approach to music, they are both totally free. They can both just stop playing and just hit one thing or set up something else. They have that in common.
It is when Stenson discusses the material on the trio's albums, that he shows off what makes him truly Nordic: a tolerant open-mindedness that is always looking for new opportunities. The new disc Goodbye
, which has tunes by Steven Sondheim, Ariel Ramirez, Tony Williams, Vladimir Vysotsky, Gordon Jenkins and Ornette Coleman in addition to originals by the group members, belies any real agenda. "It really doesn't matter what music you play, the main thing is what you do with the music. So if you find a nice melody, something from wherever it comes from, you can always do something with it, if you like it and everyone likes it. But it doesn't mean that I am looking for things, it just happens to come to you. So we play some classical so to speak but it doesn't mean that we say now we have to put a classical piece on the album, it just happened to pass by. You hear something and you think wow, I'd like to do that.