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Esbjörn Svensson: Good Morning Susie Soho

Good Morning Susie Soho peaked on the Swedish pop album chart at 15, above the likes of Whitney Houston, Britney Spears and Pearl Jam, yet was named album of the year for 2000 by the critics in the British magazine Jazzwise. At the same time, Svensson was on the covers of two German jazz magazines, was the cover feature, along with Jacky Terrasson, in the French magazine Jazzman and was hailed by the German news weekly Der Spiegel as the future of jazz piano (together with Brad Mehldau). Clearly then it’s not unreasonable to suggest that this album is making waves across Europe. That the cutting edge can live on without necessarily inhabiting volatile experimentation is hardly new, and Svensson’s trio, while darkly lyrical, is also fiercely contemporary.

Unafraid to do the unexpected-the arresting rhythmic juxtapositions that open “Somewhere Else Before,” the intricate jazz-rock of “Do the Jangle” or the sonic electronics swimming through “Last Letter from Lithuania”-reveal how Svensson remains untroubled by our received notions of how the piano trio in jazz is supposed to sound. Using a crafty mix of electronic and acoustic sounds on the title track, the originality of concept never obscures the trio’s profound lyricism, a shared responsibility that applies equally to piano, bass and drums. There is great humanity in their music, intense and often unhurried. The trio’s version of “Pavane: Thoughts of a Septuagenarian” remains etched in the memory long after it has been played, and reveals in sharp relief how the American preference for prolixity within tried and tested styles and methods of articulation has actually become a bit of a bore.

Originally Published