Archive for June 18th, 2008

E.S.T. Esbjorn Svensson

Absolutely shocking news about Esjborn Svensson, the jazz pianist who died while scuba diving in Sweden last weekend aged 44.  

I first heard the Esbjorn Svensson Trio being played on Radio Scotland a few years ago, and was knocked out by a track from Seven Days of Falling.   I heard them play live in Dundee when they were very new to the UK and also when they played in Perth last year.    Their music is very classically based, and acoustic with carefully added electronics – it is by turn exciting, enthralling, haunting and incredibly beautiful and lyrical.     To put it in a box called ‘Jazz’ is only because it overlaps with so many musical forms.

Svensson formed E.S.T. fifteen  years ago with bassist Dan Berglund and schoolfriend drummer Magnus Ostrom.    They moved on from playing standards, through Monk to all original material, and their approach was deliciously inventive yet always accessible.    The trio worked seamlessly together to evolve their new music, sparking ideas off eachother in live performance, so that each performance of a familiar E.S.T piece was completely unique, and often very different from the original.    Indeed – sometimes when they got to the end of a piece, it had arrived at such a different place, they had forgotten what they had started playing.   

They took their own sound engineer and their lighting designer with them on tour, as they considered both to be integral to the performance.    The group won many awards, including a BBC Jazz Award for best international Act in 2003.

Fifteen years is a long time for a group to evolve together.    E.S.T. were continually inventing new and wonderful music, and looked to have many successful years ahead of them.    They had so much still to do.

To have all this so cruelly cut short is truly heartbreaking.     Obit. in The Scotsman.

Esbjorn Svensson


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