Home » Jazz Articles » Esbjorn Svensson Trio: e.s.t. live in london


Album Review

Esbjorn Svensson Trio: e.s.t. live in london


Sign in to view read count
Esbjorn Svensson Trio: e.s.t. live in london
Ten years on from the tragic death of Esbjörn Svensson, it's easy to forget just how ground-breaking e.s.t. was. Its seamless embrace of jazz, pop, rock and electronics aesthetics brought CD sales and a following more typical of successful pop acts. It was also the first European jazz band on the cover of Downbeat. Easy to forget, too, how influential the trio remains. Countless times, when a new a piano trio presents itself, the back-handed compliment is offered: 'Oh, they sound a bit e.s.t.-ish.' Whether consciously or not, numerous piano trios have followed the path blazed by Svensson, Dan Berglund and Magnus Ostrom.

This double-CD captures e.s.t. in sparkling form in London's Barbican Centre in May, 2005. Half the ten tracks are from Viaticum (ACT Music, 2005), released earlier that year, with the remainder from Strange Place for Snow (Superstudio Gul/ACT Music, 2002) and Seven Days of Falling (215 Music/Munich Records, 2004) and Viaticum was the penultimate release before the experimental leap of the posthumously released Leucocyte (ACT Music, 2008), and this London concert reveals the slow, but steady evolution in the band's live dynamics prior to that. One constant, however, was e.s.t.'s democratic nature, with Svensson the nominal leader in a trio where co-writing credits were the norm, and where Berglund and Öström shouldered equal weight in defining the band's unique sound.

This equilibrium is clear from the get-go with "Tide of Temptation," where strong melody, bottom-end groove and Ostrum's trademark, propulsive brush-work frame Svensson's searching improvisation. Svensson was no Keith Jarrett—an acknowledged influence—but his language was arguably more lyrical, more emotive than many more technically equipped pianists. When in full improvisational flow, as on the baroque-influenced "When God Created the Coffee Break," there were few more exciting jazz pianists either. The extremes in dynamics that made e.s.t.'s live shows so absorbing—and the band's appeal so broad—are displayed to full effect on this, the band's fifth live release.

From the Bach-like serenity of "Viaticum" to the caressing lyricism of "In the Tail of Her Eye"—with Öström's brushes as light as mizzle on leaves—and from the pulsating, interlocking rhythms of "Mingle in The Mincing Machine," with Berglund's punkish, fuzz-toned arco to the fore—to the deft trio balladry of "Believe, Beleft Below," the stylistic juxtapositions are striking. Frequently, Svensson and Berglund are inseparable on the heads, which are often greeted by the Barbican crowd with cheers of recognition more in keeping with a rock gig.

"Mingle in the Mincing Machine," "The Unstable Table and the Infamous Fable" and "Behind The Yashmak," weighing in at fourteen, twelve and seventeen minutes respectively, underline e.s.t.'s propensity to stretch out. The extended vamps, Svensson's tumbling, blues-cum-classically-tinged improvisations, Berglund's electric bowing—as bold and beautiful as Jimi Hendrix's feedback—propelled by Öström's industry, provide thrilling antidotes to the trio's more carefully orchestrated, tunes-based repertoire. There are more subtle atmospherics at play as well, like the electronic soundscaping that accompanies an Öström's drum feature and his use of skin on skins, or Svensson's manipulation of the piano innards that conjures zither-like textures.

The grooving "Spunky Sprawl" rounds out the set on a high note, with extended solos from all, the highlight being Svensson's freewheeling, bluesy charge. Following the crowd ovation, a minute or so of post-concert buzz is captured. It's fitting, after all, a decade on from e.s.t.'s demise, that the buzz surrounding that wonderful Swedish trio continues to sound.

Track Listing

CD1: Tide of Trepidation; Eighty-Eight Days in My Veins; Viaticum; Mingle in the Mincing-Machine; In the Tail of Her Eye; The Unstable Table & the Infamous Fable. CD2: When God Created the Coffeebreak; Behind the Yashmak; Believe, Beleft, Below; Spunky Sprawl.


Esbjörn Svensson: piano; Dan Berglund: bass; Magnus Öström: drums.

Album information

Title: e.s.t. live in london | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: ACT Music

Post a comment about this album

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.



Love & Peace
Diego Rivera
Fire Illuminations
Wadada Leo Smith
Fire! Orchestra
Friendship Music for Turkey
Berke Can Özcan, Jonah Parzen-Johnson


Bobo Stenson Trio
David Lyttle & Phil Robson
Notespeak 12
Lisa Marie Simmons

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.