‘e.s.t. live in London’ – Esbjörn Svensson Trio (2CD)

e.s.t. live in london_300dpi

FOR MANY, E.S.T. (the Esbjörn Svensson Trio) were a truly seminal force in music. Translating the relative simplicity of a piano trio into an outfit which could energize the pulse or melt the heart with dewdrop tenderness, they spawned and influenced a generation of bands which followed.

Read my full review at LondonJazz News…

Released on 11 May 2018 and available from ACT, Amazon, Apple Music, etc.

 

Esbjörn Svensson piano
Dan Berglund double bass
Magnus Öström drums

est-music.com

ACT Music – ACT 9042-2 (2018)

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‘Liberetto III’ – Lars Danielsson

Liberetto III

A KEY FASCINATION with Swedish bassist, cellist and composer Lars Danielsson’s Liberetto III is that his original music’s instrumental fluctuations and juxtapositions frequently pose thoughts of “What is that instrument or combination of sounds?”

The third of the bassist/composer’s recordings under this title again brings together guitarist John Paricelli and drummer Magnus Öström to form the core quartet, this time with pianist Grégory Privat; and as before, some of Danielsson’s twelve new pieces also feature a clutch of guests (including returning trumpeter Arve Henriksen) to further varicolour the attractive, pictorialised soundscapes.

German label ACT Music (this year celebrating its 25th anniversary) has successfully continued to discover and nurture a distinctive, European ‘family’ of artists; and Danielsson’s output is very much a part of its prolific release catalogue – typically cosmopolitan, infused with cross-cultural atmospheres and refractions, defined by a welcome lack of boundary. Describing the project’s development, he refers to the band having a ‘sixth sense’ which comes from playing together so much; and this surely is a factor in why this array of ebullient, haunting and even spiritual expressions melds together so well across the album’s fifty-five minutes.

Lars Danielsson’s melodic approach is not unlike that of German bassist Eberhard Weber, and his bright, lyrical vibrato is prominent in opening numbers Preludium and Agnus Dei, with the latter’s warm, hymnal equilibrium emphasised by Arve Henriksen’s subtle trumpet and Björn Bohlin’s oboe d’amore. With Magnus Öström driving the precise energy of numbers such as Lviv, there’s a pleasing inevitability of his brushed ‘perpetuum mobile’ summoning e.s.t., confirmed by Danielsson’s searing, screeching strings in Dawn Dreaming. Hussam Aliwat’s oud and John Paracelli’s acoustic guitar enhance the dusky, heated Arabic flavours of Taksim by Night and also (showcasing Grégory Privat’s rapid, pianistic flair) catchy Sonata in Spain.

The clear, reverential aspects of the bassist’s compositions and arrangements are particularly magnetic – from the melancholy trumpet phrasing and wordless vocal of Henriksen in Orationi (which also features an achingly beautiful solo from Danielsson) to a similarly wistful pastorale, Da Salo, painted with exquisite, teardrop watercolours from Bohlin’s English horn. The appealing African-lute timbres of Danielsson’s gimbri are given a contemporary twist in Gimbri Heart as chromatic trumpet and sustained effects prompt the leader’s flamboyant rock cello; and the echoic, French elegance of Mr Miller (US bassist Marcus Miller also, incidentally, a master of the gimbri) suggests the romanticism of Fauré’s ‘Pavane’ and Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ – glimpses of European classical and folk, throughout this album, add so much.

To close, affably scurrying guitar lollipop Affretando spreads soft sunshine with theme-tune-like memorability until slow, eventide bossa nova Berchidda seemingly honours Antônio Carlos Jobim in sublime suspension, featuring Danielsson’s dulcet high-bass melodies, with great attention to detail.

Released on 26 May 2017, Liberetto III somehow casts a spell… a real joy to hear, again and again.

Available from ACT Music, Amazon and iTunes.

 

Lars Danielsson double bass, cello, piano, wah-wah cello, gimbri
Grégory Privat piano, Fender Rhodes
John Paricelli guitars
Magnus Öström drums, percussion
with guests
Arve Henriksen trumpet
Dominic Miller acoustic guitar
Hussam Aliwat oud
Björn Bohlin English horn, oboe d’amore
Mathias Eick trumpet

ACT Music – Act 9840-2

‘E.S.T. SYMPHONY’ – Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Hans Ek, with Dan Berglund, Magnus Öström and soloists

estsymphony

IT IS NO OVERSTATEMENT that, in contemporary jazz and wider circles, Swedish trio E.S.T. rose to become a powerfully seminal band during the ‘Noughties’. On the face of it, a piano trio – but that barely scratches the surface of why pianist Esbjörn Svensson, bassist Dan Berglund and drummer Magnus Öström were, in so many hearts, creatively untouchable.

The dynamic breadth and profound atmospheres of E.S.T.’s music, across albums such as Strange Place for Snow, Seven Days of Falling and, later, the intense, improvised landscapes of Leucocyte and 301, pushed at limits whilst also respecting tradition; and their stunning live performances – thankfully preserved in a 1995 release, as well as extraordinary double album Live in Hamburg – left a feeling of excited astonishment as audiences filed out of packed concert halls. So when 2008’s catastrophic news of Svensson’s untimely, accidental death was announced, it was deeply felt that a guiding light had been extinguished.

With the imminent release of each E.S.T. album, there was always a sense of expectation because (as also revealed in their hidden, closing tracks) it surely wouldn’t find them standing still. So Svensson’s vision, dating back to 2003, to enlarge the trio’s output for a series of international orchestral performances, should perhaps come as no surprise. But it’s a concept whose realisation, now, sets the pulse racing. The resulting E.S.T. SYMPHONY‘s ten tracks, across 78 minutes, are performed by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, with Hans Ek as conductor and arranger. Integral to ‘that sound’ are the characteristic sonorities of Berglund and Öström, and their soloists couldn’t be more empathetic: Iiro Rantala (piano), Marius Neset (tenor sax), Verneri Pohjola (trumpet) and Johan Lindström (pedal steel guitar).

Key to the project’s solid foundation is Esbjörn Svensson’s own, single orchestral arrangement of Dodge the Dodo, its shadowy, surging energy transformed into filmic grandeur: brassy riffs, dramatically sustained strings, ominously ascending steel guitar sirens… and Berglund and Öström in magnificent, frenzied overdrive. Hans Ek’s reinterpretations follow Svensson’s lead so congruously, the gentle lilt of Seven Days of Falling coloured differently by Neset’s tenor, Lindström’s sliding steel, and subtle string embellishments; but amidst the symphonic swell, it can only be E.S.T. as Iiro Rantala sensitively summons the musical presence of his late, fellow pianist. When God Created the Coffee Break (always a live highlight) has bassoon picking up the fugue-inspired piano momentum, the overall scale reminiscent of the many and varied orchestral transcriptions of J S Bach, with Rantala’s mid-point piano spotlight providing an immaculate echo of its originator’s genius.

Eighthundred Streets By Feet send shivers up the spine, those swooning phrases beautifully embellished by the trumpet of Verneri Pohjola, supported by luscious orchestral waves which seemingly break shore; and the already existing tension in one of E.S.T.’s most majestically haunting tunes, Serenade for the Renegade, is raised to blockbuster soundtrack status, its sinewy, symphonic detail underpinning Lindström’s restless improvisations.

Hans Ek also successfully refashions albums Tuesday Wonderland and Viaticum into expansive suites which send up shooting stars of familiar, much-loved melodies and grooves, proving (as if it were necessary) the depth and potential of this trio’s original creations; and the now-emotional, suspended solemnity of Viaticum, in particular, easily suggests symphonic Dvorak or Beethoven before hitting a Philip Glass-like pulse. Though these compositions pave the way for future performances worldwide, the presence of Berglund and Öström feels central to the continuity of the story, conveyed in the open jazz-piano spaciousness of From Gagarin’s Point of View and the lavish, propulsive splendour of Behind the Yashmak which closes almost reaching up to the heavens to triumphantly reunite with Svensson himself.

The indelible impression of E.S.T., as a trio, can never be repeated, nor is that the intention with this impressive reimagining; for as well as prompting a rediscovery of their 13-album catalogue (try it – each one still something of a revelation), it re-evaluates the undoubtable integrity of the band’s considerable output on an orchestral scale, confirmed by Öström: “The music starts to live in itself… it’s not only E.S.T.… it’s going into the future, in a new setting.” And for that, we can be eternally grateful.

Released on 28 October 2016, E.S.T. SYMPHONY is available from ACT Music, AmazoniTunes and record stores.

 

Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Hans Ek conductor, arranger
Marius Neset saxophone
Verneri Pohjola trumpet
Johan Lindström pedal steel
Iiro Rantala piano
Dan Berglund bass
Magnus Öström drums

est-symphony.com

ACT Music – 9034-2 (2016)

‘Parachute’ – Magnus Öström

Parachute

OVERCOMING darkness with light, both personally and in a global context, appears central to Parachute, the third solo album from a musician synonymous with groundbreaking contemporary jazz/rock – drummer and composer Magnus Öström.

For a decade and a half, Öström was a perfect third of seminal trio e.s.t. (with pianist Esbjörn Svensson and bassist Dan Berglund), until Svensson’s shocking, untimely death in 2008.

Now, with his established personnel of Andreas Hourdakis (guitars), Thobias Gabrielson (bass, keyboards) and Daniel Karlsson (piano, keyboards) – following on from solo debut Thread of Life (2011) and Searching for Jupiter (2013) – this new release exhibits a more celebratory, cathartic approach. Öström specifically identifies his personal ‘parachute’ as the healing energy of music, especially amidst the darkest of times; and the pervading, sometimes slow-burning intent of these eight original tracks does indeed possess an aura of positivity, acceptance and contentment.

It’s a sound world which might take some time to break into – opener Dog on the Beach‘s blue-sky propulsion ripples ebulliently to guitar and keyboard riffs, whereas Walkabout Bug‘s ticking, oscillating pop gait is as much about the groove as its synth-supported improvisations. But at its heart is the unmistakable exactitude of Öström’s drumming, his characteristic attention to detail producing a signature sound familiar to any e.s.t. fan. Junas is a classic example, with its prog rock piano/keyboard drama and jazz guitar chromatics dancing to the drummer’s syncopated, shuffling, perpetual motion and typically glinting percussion.

The barren, opening theme of The Green Man and the French Horn gives way to calm abandonment, its blithe piano and guitar demeanour suggesting a folksy, hymn-like solace; and excitingly propulsive title track Parachute figuratively suggests Öström’s “way back to life” via zesty synth passages and a pianistically jazz-inflected middle section, as well as vividly pictorialising an adrenalin-fired, flare-trailed descent to terra firma.

The Shore of Unsure is animated through Öström’s compelling, palpitating drive – a dark, cinematic episode enhanced by guest trumpeter Mathias Eick’s clear, transcendent extemporisations, whilst Reedjoyce‘s pop/rock fervour reveals, more than ever, the full-on, blistering potential of this line-up; and a cool-grooving breeziness in closing track All the Remaining Days is coloured by balmy guitar-and-piano motifs.

Magnus Öström says that he had always intended this project to create at least three albums, to see how it developed – and there’s a sense of both consolidation and progress throughout these fifty minutes. As an artist, he has already provided us with an incalculably rich legacy, through e.s.t. – and with these solo realisations, as well as the new ‘e.s.t. Symphony’ project, his creative journey continues to be fascinating to follow.

Released on 1 April 2016, Parachute is available from Amazon, iTunes, etc. (album trailer here).

 

Magnus Öström drums, percussion, voice
Andreas Hourdakis electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Thobias Gabrielson bass, bass synthesizer, keyboards
Daniel Karlsson grand piano, keyboards
with
Mathias Eick trumpet (on The Shore of Unsure)

magnusostrom.com

Diesel Music – DIESEL C-54 (2016)