Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

5

Various Artists: E.S.T. Symphony

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Before Esbjorn Svensson's tragic death in 2008 there were clear signs that e.s.t. was hungry to explore new musical terrain; Leucocyte (ACT Records, 2008), the trio's live-in-the-studio improvisation with its metal-jazz thunder, brooding electronics and epic excursions was proof of that. However, five years previously, Svensson, Dan Berglund and Magnus Ostrom had played a handful of dates in Europe with chamber orchestras, an experiment that hinted at the trio's desire to explore the music in an altogether different arena. If Svensson had indeed harboured orchestral ambitions then he'd likely be content at Berglund and Öström's efforts in realizing E.S.T. Symphony, a lustrous recording that captures the essence of Svensson's trio while magnifying its epic qualities.

Berglund and Öström have played e.s.t.'s music with various European orchestras since 2013, with guest soloists of the calibre of Kurt Rosenwinkel, Mathias Eick, Jacky Terrasson, Alex Sipiagin and Yuri Honing, but this recording is very much an all-Scandinavian affair. The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Hans Ek—who has previously arranged the music of Pink Floyd, Bjork and The Kronos Quartet—and is joined by soloists Iiro Rantala, Marius Neset, Verneri Pohjola and pedal steel guitarist Johan Lindstrom -the latter a member of Berglund's Tonbrucket. Ek's arrangements echo the defining characteristics of e.s.t.'s music—the minimalist gravitas, refined lyricism, rhythmic panache, thrilling dialogues and the embrace of classical ideas, rock and electronic aesthetics that made the trio the biggest draw in European jazz. At the same time, the soloists are central to Ek's vision—a visceral component every bit as significant as the orchestral voice.

Some of the songs translate better than others in the orchestral idiom, particularly the extended compositions like "Wonderland Suite," "Viaticum Suite" and "Behind the Yashmak," where Ek's manipulation of the orchestra's contrasting dynamics is arguably most effective. Most satisfying is "e.s.t. Prelude," where Mahler-esque strings adagio, striking brass voicings and Berglund's trademark arco combine in elegant, grandiose style. The ensemble then cedes to gentler, individual voices, as marimba, harp, flute, oboe and clarinet weave softer threads. It's the most impressionistic arrangement on the album and the overall effect is akin to a requiem.

Inevitably enough, and given the scale of the project, the intimate chemistry that made e.s.t such a unique organism is absent. But rather than thrust Rantala into the thankless task of imitating Svensson, Ek Instead uses the orchestra cannily to suggest rhythmic patterns, or in the case of the interlude in "When God Created The Coffee Break," to reimagine Svensson solos. That said, Rantala leaves his mark, faithfully reproducing Svensson's most memorable melodic motifs when required and exerting his own considerable personality when accorded the freedom, notably with a dashing improvisation on "When God Created The Coffee Break."

The powerful "Seven Days of Falling" finds Neset in scintillating form, while Pohjola is equally expansive and fiery on "Wonderland Suite" -an episodic arrangement featuring Lindstrom's painterly pedal steel touches and an Öström solo spot, which, truth be told, somewhat dramatically disrupts the ensemble flow. "Serenade for the Renegade" and "Eighthundred Streets by Feet" flow between orchestral buoyancy and chamber intimacy, and in general the music is most effective when Ek embraces the force of such tidal movements. Trumpets and strings beef up "Dodge the Dodo" but add little to the tensions inherent in Berglund's heady arco distortions and Öström's hammered rhythms.

E.S.T. Symphony is a fine tribute to Esbjorn Svensson, as much in its fidelity to e.s.t.'s compositions as in the adventurous liberties that it takes with the same. This is a heartfelt project that breathes new life into Svensson's already considerable legacy.

Track Listing: e.s.t. Prelude; From Gagarin’s Point of View; When God Created the Coffeebreak; Seven Days of Falling; Wonderland Suite; Serenade for the Renegade; Dodge the Dodo; Eighthundred Streets by Feet; Viaticum Suite; Behind the Yashmak.

Personnel: Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra; Hans Ek: conductor/arranger; Marius Neset: saxophone; Verneri Pohjola: trumpet; Johan Lindström: pedal steel; Iiro Rantala: piano; Dan Berglund: bass; Magnus Öström: drums.

Title: E.S.T. Symphony | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: ACT Music


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by John Sharpe
Published: December 14, 2017
Read I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert CD/LP/Track Review I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2017
Read Celebrating William Parker at 65 CD/LP/Track Review Celebrating William Parker at 65
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 14, 2017
Read Eternal Life CD/LP/Track Review Eternal Life
by Jerome Wilson
Published: December 14, 2017
Read Baby It's Cold Outside CD/LP/Track Review Baby It's Cold Outside
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Wrong Turns And Dead Ends CD/LP/Track Review Wrong Turns And Dead Ends
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 13, 2017
Read "Proverbe" CD/LP/Track Review Proverbe
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 15, 2017
Read "BACHanalia" CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "My Head is Listening" CD/LP/Track Review My Head is Listening
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 2, 2017
Read "Minor Step" CD/LP/Track Review Minor Step
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 19, 2017
Read "Gallarais" CD/LP/Track Review Gallarais
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 15, 2017
Read "Live at the Stone: Megaloprepus Caerulatus" CD/LP/Track Review Live at the Stone: Megaloprepus Caerulatus
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 2, 2017

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!