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Catching Up With

Catching Up With e.s.t.'s Dan Berglund and Magnus Ostrom

By Published: May 9, 2012
AAJ: How do you view e.s.t. in terms of its position or legacy in the continuum of music?

DB: Do you mean what was special about the e.s.t.?

AAJ: Yeah, but not just that. Some people would say that e.s.t. fits somewhere in between the Keith Jarrett trio and Squarepusher. How do you categorize or view e.s.t.?

DB: That's right, very much, in a way, between Squarepusher and Keith Jarrett. Even more so with traditional jazz, like Bill Evans and stuff like that. Also, we were really inspired by lots of classical music as well as music from the rock scene. Especially me, because I grew up with lots of hard rock. I think you can hear it in our music because we all have different backgrounds, but we are all almost the same age and have the same heroes from the seventies and so on. All of that became the sound of the trio.

AAJ: What do you see as e.s.t.'s legacy?

DB: Wow, that's a hard question. Maybe it's harder for me to answer because I was in the trio. For me, I think it was all the improvisation that we did together. We had the same energy, and we tried to collect our energy together. I think that was really important. Of course all the songs that Esbjörn wrote during those years were really strong. The sound that we created together, I think that you can hear that those are Esbjörn Svensson Trio songs; well, I hope that is our legacy.

AAJ: Part of the trio's legacy would be the actual length of time you spent working together as a band. Few ensembles Have stayed together that long.

DB: Not many, no. But, of course, when you get that sound, that band sound together, I think you need some years together to achieve that. What about the Keith Jarrett Standards Trio, they have played for a long time.

AAJ: That's true, but on and off. You were more of a band, only playing with each other until the trio was done. I'm not aware that you or Magnus did any side projects until after the trio ended, though Esbjörn did the occasional date with trombonist Nils Landgren.

DB: That's right.

AAJ: I think that's a big difference. The idea or concept of a band has always been prevalent in rock music, from The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles

up until Meshuggah, but not in jazz. I mean you have Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
' first and second great quintets or John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
's classic quartet, but those ensembles were really only together for a short time, compared to e.s.t.

DB: Wow, you're right. I never really thought about that like that but you are right.

AAJ: Magnus, how do you think the trio will be remembered in thirty or forty years?

MO: Hopefully it is gonna be remembered like it was, as a melting pot for integrating all these different kinds of music. That we kind of pushed the borders of what the piano trio could do. It's really hard to talk about yourself, but if you try to look at it from outside I think there is an idea of what you are allowed to do and can do in jazz or in music in general. But you can go as far as you want to and create amazing stuff, actually. I hope that we kind of made a mark in the music industry in that sense. So that generations after us will know that you can just go for your ideas, and also be open to everything and do whatever you want. Just be open-minded. You don't have to listen all the people around you that say you can't do this or you can't do that.

AAJ: Yeah, no boundaries. That brings up an interesting question. Did you have a difficult time with record companies and their marketing departments. Did they ever insist that you had to do a more specifically traditional jazz recording, or try to pigeonhole you in that way?

MO: No; actually we were really lucky in that we were totally free to do whatever we wanted. The only time that we did such a thing was the first album we did on a pop label in Sweden. The record, Esbjörn Svensson Trio Plays Monk (Superstudio GUL, 1996), we played Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
stuff. That was an idea, the general idea came from the record company. They said that maybe we should do a kind of concept album, compositions from one of the big artists in the jazz world. We thought about it, because we wanted to do our own music. We thought, "Yeah, let's try." We all loved Monk so we chose his music, but the record company had the idea first. I think that was the only time that we even discussed what we should do with anyone. But that was actually a nice recording, but we did it our own way. Still, it is more in the tradition; you can really hear the crossover— how much we embraced the tradition but also how much we broke away from that tradition.

Selected Discography

e.s.t., 301
Magnus Öström,
Thread of Life (ACT, 2011)

Tonbruket, Dig It To The End (ACT, 2011)

Dan Berglund's Tonbruket, Dan Berglund's Tonbruket (ACT, 2010)

e.s.t., Leucocyte (ACT, 2008)

e.s.t., Live in Hamburg (ACT, 2007)

e.s.t., Tuesday Wonderland (ACT, 2007)

e.s.t., Viaticum (ACT, 2005)

e.s.t., Seven Days of Falling (ACT, 2004)

e.s.t., Strange Place for Snow (ACT, 2002)

e.s.t., Good Morning Susie Soho (ACT, 2000)

e.s.t., From Gagarin's Point of View (ACT, 1999)

Photo Credits

Page 1: Tobias Regell

Page 2: Sergio Miro

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