Pianist Tord Gustavsen has released six critically acclaimed albums on ECM Records with his trio and quartet. Before starting his solo career, Tord had already been an important part of the Norwegian jazz scene for several years. His playing has formed a cornerstone in projects featuring some of the finest Norwegian singers, including Kristin Asbjørnsen, Solveig SleNahjell and Silje Nergaard. The urge for authentic and original playing fuses with acutely attentive listening in creative interplay, making Tord a very special experience both as a soloist and as an ensemble player. His way of conversing jazz history with ‘Nordic’ reflective moods and lyrical beauty brings about an intriguing voice on today’s music scene. Tord Gustavsen has been touring world-wide with his projects the last ten years, playing at major festivals and concert halls in Australia, USA, Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Poland, Turkey, Japan, Korea, and the Scandinavian countries. He has received numerous awards including the Norwegian Grammy (Spellemannsprisen), CHOC criOcal awards (France), Bell Award for best international Jazz Album (Australia), Recording of the Month in Stereophile Magazine (USA), and NOPAs Musikkpris for best jazz composition in 2010.
Tord Gustavsen Trio
This is music that sings, at once gentle and robust. Memorable melodies with open musical spaces and subtle grooves. The 2014 release ‘Extended Circle’ by Norwegian pianist and composer Tord Gustavsen on ECM Records marked the completion of two trilogies – three albums in the classical piano, bass, drums trio format, followed by a second trilogy in extended ensemble and quartet formats. In 2016, Tord released the strikingly original alternative ‘trio’ album ‘What was said’ with the voice of Afghan-German singer Simin Tander, where they reinterpreted ancient Norwegian hymns and Sufi poems, in the hauntingly beautiful Pashto language. Now, it is again time for the instrumental trio – and for a new take on the classic format that brought Tord’s music to a wide international audience in the first place. The new material is pointing forwards in musical openness and inventiveness, while at the same time clearly connecting to the quietness and grounded sensuality of Tord’s remarkably successful earlier trio albums. The recent development embraces anew the paradoxically fullsounding simplicity of the ‘Nordic Blues’ that so many people came to love in Gustavsen’s debut album, along with traces of open, Impressionist harmonic landscapes, and a clear overall hymnal and meditative feel. Tord Gustavsen has toured extensively with his trio, quartet and alternative line-ups in the USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany as well as his native Norway. He has also appeared at major festivals in various other countries including Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria and Poland.
Tord Gustavsen: Hymns and Visions
w/ Simin Tander and Jarle Vespetad
For his album ‘What was said’ (2016) on ECM Records, Tord Gustavsen turned his attention to interpretations and elaborations of ancient Norwegian hymns. These tunes are, for him, his original and deepest ‘standards’ as a jazz musician. The internationally acclaimed Norwegian pianist met Afghan-German vocalist Simin Tander – a rising star on the European jazz and world music scenes – in 2014, and their collaboration has developed since then. Together with Afghan poet B. Hamsaaya, they translated and re-worked the lyrics of a selection of Norwegian traditional hymns into Pashto, the mother-tongue of Simin’s late father. Through this process of dialogue, translation and interpretation, the hymnal content became more and more ‘Sufi-like’ and spiritually open, although still clearly showing its roots. The resulting collection of lyrics is a testimonial to Simin’s and Tord’s equal passion for the constitutive interplay of foundation and freedom – roots and openness – in music, spirituality and cultural identity. In close musical dialogue with the old hymns, the ensemble also plays new compositions of Tord Gustavsen based on Sufi poetry in English translatons, as well as instrumental music. This all integrates into an amalgam of the sensual jazz-minimalism known from Gustavsen’s previous trio work; Simin’s warm and vibrant vocal art; and deeper electronic soundscapes.
For the first time on stage, Tord now uses subtle live electronics and drones/synth-bass adding depth and new layers to the musical texture in addiction to the acoustic piano. Following the January 2016 release, the band has toured extensively, playing over 80 concerts in the UK, Germany, France, USA, Canada, Scandinavia and elsewhere, including major festival appearances at the London Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, SF Jazz Festival in San Francisco.