Jesu, meine Freude

Sunday Sounds

The Tord Gustavsen Trio’s superb recent album The Other Side was my Recording of the Month back last October, and I concluded that:

“This is music that has the power to take us by surprise, to deeply move and supremely delight. The Tord Gustavsen Trio emerge not simply as three musicians at the top of their game, but as consummate masters of the Trio form, delivering a classic album that is far more than the sum of its parts.”

I also noted that rapt religious sentiment prevailed on the album, especially with the inclusion of three J.S. Bach chorale melodies as launchpads to the trio’s musical explorations, noting:

“These veer between heartfelt depth and ecstatic utterance, offering the album’s most intense pinnacles, and perhaps an invitation to join the trio and ascend to more hallowed ground.”

This Easter Sunday, it seems particularly apt to include this astonishing jazz trio meditation on Bach’s beloved setting of the chorale, ‘Jesu, mine Freude – do have a listen:


You can read my full review of the album here if you are interested.

And it’s available to purchase from Amazon UK here.


Sunday Sounds showcases great keyboard music featuring players past and present, from classic recordings to great new music discoveries.

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Tord Gustavsen Trio: “The Other Side”

Recording of the Month

Photo credit: Hans Fredrik Asbjørnsen

Just as the great classical composers would often use the medium of the string quartet to explore new compositional ideas, techniques and directions, so jazz pianists have often produced their most exploratory work in the trio format.

One of the noteworthy recent exponents of the jazz trio is Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen. His Trio, featuring drummer Jarle Vespestad and bassist Harald Johnsen, toured between 2003-08, releasing three recordings, Changing Places (2003), The Ground (2005), Being There (2007), all on the ECM Records label.

Changing Places wasn’t, as it happens, my first encounter with Gustavsen’s playing; he had previously recorded sessions with fellow Norwegian chanteuse, Silje Nergaard, one of my absolute favourite singers. Gustavsen’s understated but deeply felt piano lines in her early recordings certainly made their impression on me, but hearing him let loose in a trio format really bought home the delicate brilliance and originality of his playing.

Following on from the three trio albums, which established Gustavsen’s voice as the preeminent lyrical pianist of the Nordic school, with colourful tinges of blues and gospel never far from the surface in his playing, he developed larger ensembles. The Tord Gustavsen Quartet added saxophonist Tore Brunborg, while the Ensemble added the vocals of Kristin Ambjørnsen.

And for his 2016 release What Was Said (my personal favourite, by the way) he was joined by German-Afgan jazz singer Simin Tander alongside regular drummer Jarle Vespestad.

Along the way, Gustavsen added experimentation with electronic instruments and treatments to his already gorgeous sonic palette.

The Other Side marks Gustavsen’s return to the basic format of the standard Trio after more than a decade of exploring these other musical possibilities. As I listened to preview track The Tunnel over the late summer, I wondered whether this new album would be somewhat a return to Gustavsen’s roots, or be markedly different from the earlier Trio albums ….

Continue reading Tord Gustavsen Trio: “The Other Side”