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Tord Gustavsen Trio : Being There

The trio led by the Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen is one of the most pleasant groups to come out of Europe. Its members play with a light touch informed as much by classical pianists as by the American jazz tradition. The Gustavsen Trio’s music is a serious music, airy in texture and minimalist in structure. It is melodic, but it is simple. It breathes. Being There, the third disc from Gustavsen, bassist Harald Johnsen and drummer Jarle Vespestad, is much like the first two. The tunes are short and employ an economy of notes, yet they take a while to develop. They could serve as the soundtrack to a movie in which it rains a lot.

Moods do vary within the conceit. “At Home” is a soulful and well-plotted piece, “Still There” is five minutes of uplift, and “Around You” is a grand, sweeping ballad with great big washes of emotion. The ruminative left-hand figures of Keith Jarrett’s improvised compositions are heard in pieces like “Vicar Street” and “Interlude.” And while a premium is placed on atmosphere, the eloquent interchanges that take place are just as important. “Blessed Feet” sounds like a European jazz trio’s version of R&B, but it is really nothing more than the bare essence of jazz: musicians feeding off one another, creating and releasing tension.

Originally Published