Sure to be on many best of lists, The Ground
is helping point the way forward for jazz music worldwide. The eleven chamber jazz tracks, all composed by Gustavsen, never stray far from blues and gospel music chords and voicings, and they produce a bountiful buffet. The piano trio adds a bit of Satie ("Tears Transforming"), a dash of flamenco ("Sentiment"), and a heaping of tango ("The Ground," "Being There"), with Gustavsen's piano substituting for the bandeon, the accordion-like instrument central to the genre.
On "Colours of Mercy" and "Twins," the trio evokes comparisons to the playing style of the Keith Jarrett's Standards Trio, but in a highly concentrated formshort tunes and a cornucopia of melody, not the lengthy, free-wheeling improvisational flights characteristic of Jarrett's group.
Gustavsen's trio plays relaxednever lazy or self-indulgent. They serve the music, leaving egos aside. The soothing music ebbs and flows like the ocean on a warm summer night. The restrained playing leaves the listener wanting more. The sound quality on this ECM recording is pristine. This luminescent album is best appreciated on a high-end audio system, the decay of each note on the piano and bass especially is enveloping.
Personnel: Tord Gustavsen: piano; Jarle Vespestad: drums; Harald Johnsen: bass.