Tord Gustavsen is one of the latest in a long line of stunning Norwegian jazz artists that ECM has introduced to the world. “We’ve always had a good tradition for modern jazz in Norway,” says Rune Kristoffersen, head of the Rune Grammofon label and formerly ECM’s sales rep in the country. “I think that is due to the fact that ECM picked up early on to Norwegian musicians like Jan Garbarek, Arild Andersen, Terje Rypdal, Jon Christiansen. They were on some of the first ECM albums, and a lot of the albums have been recorded in Norway.”
The ECM sound-moody and spacious-fits into the “idea of North” that goes something like this: Norway’s stunning landscape, from fjords and mountains to glaciers and streams, must have provided the artistic inspiration for these early ECM musicians, who mixed bebop chops with folk-music hearts, creating melancholic music that reflects the land of the midnight sun. Norway’s young musicians have a pet name for that sound: mountain jazz.