Tord Gustavsen is one of Norway’s most prestigious jazz pianists and composers. The Other Side (2018), his latest album, explores the sensuality of Nordic blues and represents his return to the instrumental trio, a formation that captivated audiences in the early years of his career and that took his music to countries such as the USA, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Poland.
Tord made his debut in 2003 with Changing Places, the first of three albums released under ECM Records. The trilogy – which also includes The Ground (2005) and Being There (2007) – serves as an introduction to the sound of Tord Gustavsen: innovative and futuristic in terms of musical freedom and inventiveness, while retaining a connection to the serenity and quietness of the Scandinavian landscapes, where Tord was born. For the three albums, the trio is awarded the prestigious Nattjazz prize.
In 2009, Tord took on a new formation, the quartet – with Tore Brunborg on saxophones, Mats Eilertsen on bass and Jarle Vespestad on drums – and released Restored, Returned (2009). The album was a great success and was awarded the prestigious Spellemannsprisen, the Norwegian Grammy. Still in this formation, Tord released the acclaimed The Well (2012) – recently included in ECM’s list of 50 unmissable classics – and Extended Circle (2014), two works that bring new dynamics and colours to Tord Gustavsen’s sound.
The Other Side (2018), Tord’s latest work, is a return to the instrumental trio and combines the subtlety and apparent simplicity of Scandinavian jazz – which so enthralled audiences on their debut album – with deeply poetic and meditative harmonic atmospheres. The Other Side features seven original compositions by Tord Gustavsen in dialogue with ancient Scandinavian hymns and three stunning versions of Bach’s Chorales. It has been described by the press as an album of “hypnotic hymns” filled with moments of “absolute beauty, taste and originality”.
Over a career spanning almost 20 years, Tord has received numerous distinctions. Besides the Norwegian Grammy (Spellemannsprisen) and Nattjazz, Tord has also been awarded the prestigious CHOC criOcal (France), the Bell Award for the best international Jazz Album (Australia), Recording of the Month in Stereophile Magazine (USA), and the NOPAs Musikkpris for the Best Jazz Composition.
‘A trilogy [that] could be the most essential jazz document of recent years. Sublime.’ The Independent
‘a recording of incredible beauty … draws the listener in so completely – making us appreciate every note, every little gesture, in its ethereal, shimmering whole … nothing short of magical.’ Downbeat (4.5****)
‘…a delicious collage of religious themes into hypnotic, delicate beats.’ The Guardian
‘every note emerges in its perfect place. The Times