586

Tord Gustavsen Trio: Being There

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Tord Gustavsen Trio: Being There Since its 2003 ECM debut Changing Places, pianist Tord Gustavsen's trio has gradually been working its way out of a core concept that initially mined a surprising and remarkable wealth of what, on first glance, appeared to be a limited scope of tempo and dynamic. Like an ever-expanding series of concentric circles, Gustavsen, bassist Harald Johnsen and drummer Jarle Vesperstad have evolved their approach, introducing greater breadth so subtly that, unless one listens to previous albums including The Ground (ECM, 2005), one might think that little has changed.

To say that Being There is the trio's most extroverted album yet, still needs to be contextualized within the framework that has defined the group since its inception. The opener, "At Home," possesses the same slow-tempo melancholy so prominent on Changing Places, with Vespestad continuing to approach his kit so gently that, rather than striking it, he almost seems to be breathing on it. But within the first thirty seconds of "Vicar Street" it's clear that the trio is entering new territory. More rhythmically insistent, and with an opening vamp occupying nearly half the tune before Gustavsen's ever-lyrical theme emerges, it's not exactly aggressive, but it's clearly a more assertive stance for this typically understated group.

That's not to suggest that the trio's attention to nuance has been abandoned. It is, in fact, their keen attention to space, dynamic and tempo (which for many would be nearly imperceptible shifts) that speaks so powerfully. Still, while Gustavsen has long been influenced by the sounds of gospel, blues and the music of New Orleans, he's not previously written a piece as plainly funky as "Blessed Feet," or as energized as the Spanish-tinged "Where We Went."

Being There is the first album to feature writing by someone other than Gustavsen, although it's clear that Johnsen, who contributes the bittersweet "Karmosin," is no less melodically-minded. There's a tempo to be found, but the trio approaches it so elastically and with such avoidance of the obvious, that it's barely felt.

A trio that so steadfastly avoids overt displays of virtuosity might challenge the more literal-minded to question its garnered acclaim. As silence can sometimes speak as loudly as thunder, and insofar as careful elaboration of melody can be just as compelling as more vivid expansion, Gustavsen's trio makes a clear case for the elusive power of restraint. Consistently beautiful while evocatively resonant on a larger scale, Being There finds the trio continuing to develop its distinctive aesthetic, where the spaces between the notes have equal value to the notes themselves.


Track Listing: At Home; Vicar Street; Draw Near; Blessed Feet; Sani; Interlude; Karmosin; Still There; Where We Went; Cocoon; Around You; Vesper; Wide Open.

Personnel: Tord Gustavsen: piano; Harald Johnsen: double-bass; Jarle Vespestad: drums.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Good 'n' Cheap: The Eggs Over Easy Story" CD/LP/Track Review Good 'n' Cheap: The Eggs Over Easy Story
by Doug Collette
Published: July 3, 2016
Read "Algorithmic Society" CD/LP/Track Review Algorithmic Society
by Jim Trageser
Published: October 23, 2016
Read "The New Breed" CD/LP/Track Review The New Breed
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 4, 2016
Read "Soldani Dieci Anni" CD/LP/Track Review Soldani Dieci Anni
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 5, 2016
Read "Dichotomies" CD/LP/Track Review Dichotomies
by Budd Kopman
Published: May 22, 2016
Read "Acceptance" CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Jim Olin
Published: June 30, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!