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The Esbj: Viaticum

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The Esbjörn Svensson Trio stayed hidden to my ears until I discovered the existence of Viaticum. The impact of this recording is immediate: it belongs to a new jazz school, in which I don't know who's the teacher and who's the pupil, but where we can find the names of Brad Mehldau—with his Art Of The Trio series—and The Bad Plus, led by pianist Ethan Iverson. With this new way of making jazz, the musicians reach out to an extensive audience, since they introduce such dispersed musical elements and develop them in a paused way. This makes it easy for the audience to find familiar elements in the resulting mixture. The rest of the work is easy: you only have to follow these elements and observe how the jazz trio plays and converts them into a jazz, pop, classical, or electronic landscape.

The piano, double bass, and drums on Viaticum seem not to be in a hurry. They develop songs in slow tempos, leaving open spaces, forgetting the hurries of bebop or hard bop. The three musicians achieve making silence an instrument in "Tide Of Trepidation," "Eighty-eight Days In My Veins" and "Viaticum." In the second song, the starting piano melody is converted into a bass rhythm, and midway it turns into a friendly jazz song. Constant elements can be observed during the whole recording, and especially on "In The Tail of Her Eye," that connect directly e.s.t. with Brad Mehldau and Bill Evans. And it wouldn't be strange to find "A Picture Of Doris Travelling With Boris" or "What Though The Way May Be Long" as the main titles of a film soundtrack with a sad and melancholic script.

Viaticum is a menu comprised of nine courses (a surprising dessert included) in which the ingredients are repeated. But the result is not hard to digest, because the elaboration and presentation endow each of them with a different and elegant flavor.

Track Listing: Tide of Trepidation; Eighty-eight Days in My Veins; The Well-wisher; The Unstable Table & The Infamous Fable; Viaticum; In the Tail of Her Eye; Leter From the Leviathan; A Picture of Doris Travelling with Boris; What Though the Way May be Long.

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

Title: Viaticum | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: 215 Music/Munich Records


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