The GroundTord Gustavsen TrioCD12
  • -2004
The GroundTord Gustavsen TrioCD12
  • DE2005-01-01
ECM Records (Edition of Contemporary Music)ECM 1892028947619383
The GroundTord Gustavsen TrioCD12
  • US2005-04-05
ECM Records (Edition of Contemporary Music)ECM 1892
The GroundTord Gustavsen TrioDigital Media12
  • FR2015-12-11
ECM Records (Edition of Contemporary Music)ECM 1892


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Following up the excellent 2003 debut Changing Places is a difficult task. This Norwegian pianist has written another collection of extremely carefully-judged illuminations, produced by Manfred Eicher and recorded in Oslo's Rainbow Studio. As before, the combined effect is supremely calming. It has a kind of pre-meditated tentativeness; adeliberate uncertainty.

Gustavsen describes his pieces as often having the character of 'wordless hymns', growing out of the blues or gospel traditions. But some of these melodies have a Moorish or Oriental exoticism, just as much as they sound like products of the Stateside plantation or church.

The pianist prefers his trio's improvisations to grow organically out of the entire tune, not demarcated into specific 'solo' durations. Gustavsen employs what could be deemed the essential vocabulary of lounge piano to sensitise his studied phrases, turning them into something infinitely more profound.

Often, the listener can home in on very tiny details, not noticed at first. On "Twins", drummer Jarle Vespestad has a delicately rubberised skip to his snare work, whilst bassist Harald Johnsen catches an odd pinging repeat during "Kneeling Down".

Some of these numbers sound strangely familiar, as if Gustavsen is investigating standard material, or even works that have a life in film or on television. When his perverse Americanism does surface, it's because he's hinting at shadows of bland notes, transformed into fittingly romantic moods.

The soloing is so decelerated that it sounds like composition. The writing could be fixed, or very fleeting and insubstantial. The trio's gift is that it's impossible to know for sure, and even attempting to do so is a dubious proposition. Why try to quantify an atmosphere? Who needs to grip hold of a category? This album doesn't elicit a fixed, strong response, like its predecessor. It floats between shallow and deep.