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Swedish Pianist Esbjörn Svensson Dies in Diving Accident

Esbjörn Svensson, the Swedish pianist and composer whose group the Esbjörn Svensson Trio, or e.s.t., was considered one of the most successful European jazz outfits of recent years, died in a scuba diving accident on Saturday, June 14th. He was 44.

Svensson was among a group of experienced divers outside of Stockholm when he was found injured underwater. Attempts to revive him were not successful.

e.s.t., which also included bassist Dan Berglund and drummer Magnus ?-ström, formed in 1993 and became famous quickly in Sweden. The group’s reputation for an innovative mix of jazz, contemporary rock and elements of classical music spread worldwide by the end of that decade.

Svensson was nominated for Swedish Jazz Musician of the Year in 1995 and 1996. The group was also named Best International Act by the BBC in 2003 and won several other European awards. e.s.t. also garnered Swedish Grammys, among them honors for Jazz Album of the Year in 1996, 1998 and 2003.

Svensson was born on April 16, 1964 in Västeras, Sweden. His mother played classical piano, his father loved Ellington, and Svensson initially gravitated toward rock. In high school, Esbjörn played in his first bands while taking piano lessons for three years. There followed four years of musical studies at the University in Stockholm, where Svensson developed the necessary technical craft to fully articulate his intuitive self-taught concepts.

e.s.t., whose most recent recordings were released in the U.S. by the ACT label, had recently finished working on their 12th album, Leucocyte.

Originally Published