Tord Gustavsen photo courtesy of the artist
Saturday, February 18, 7:30pm
Town Hall Forum
1119 8th Ave
BY DAVID BENEDICT
The music of Norwegian-born pianist Tord Gustavsen and his trio creates a hypnotic atmosphere on its journey through time and space. Gustavsen’s talent and musicianship weave in and out of theory, improvisation, and vulnerability—materializing fleeting moments in the haunting depths of contemplation. The results are serene, spacious, and crafted with intention, care, and patience. Like his journey through these complex musical landscapes, Gustavsen’s approach has also translated into an equally unique and successful career immersed in the honest exploration of music and its beauty.
Gustavsen and his music have received critical acclaim throughout the jazz world, and while Scandinavian folk plays a part in his musical influence and expression, Gustavsen and his trio travel across diverse musical terrains with flavors of gospel, Caribbean, and cool jazz that blend historical jazz sentiment with refined creativity and lyricism.
Gustavsen’s musical story began at the age of four when he began composing and improvising before learning to read classical pieces. From these beginnings, Gustavsen hasn’t just tagged along through the dynamic world of music but has spent his career searching the landscape of jazz and music for deeper meaning. “For me, playing the piano is very similar to a meditation or prayer,” he said. “It’s about opening up to the forces of beauty and transcendence. Music can be a kind of deepest reality that exceeds everything words can express.”
At age nineteen, Gustavsen studied sociology, psychology, and the history of religions at the University of Oslo, where he met singer Kristin Asbjørnsen who inspired him to take a deeper look into his own artistic journey. In 1993, he was accepted to the Trondheim Conservatory of Music , where he finished three years of training in jazz piano, jazz history, improvisational techniques, composition, and analysis before he eventually returned to the University of Oslo and earned a graduate degree in musicology with a specialization in the psychology and phenomenology of improvisation.
Gustavsen released his first album with his trio on ECM Records, Changing Places, in 2003 and thus began an international career that would turn his contemplative and metaphorical journey into a musical expedition. Performing in countries across Europe, Asia, North America, and Australia, Gustavsen has contributed to around 30 releases with other artists, including Solveig Slettahjell, The Norwegian Girls Choir, Mahsa Vahdat, and the Oslo Cathedral Choir.
Now, on February 18, the Nordic pianist brings his unique musical approach to the Forum at Seattle’s Town Hall, a dynamic and versatile mid-sized performance space. This intimate venue will give jazz lovers a chance to witness Gustavsen’s stimulatingly introspective approach in an up close and personal setting and experience his fresh, spacious, and heartfelt music firsthand.
In his own words Gustavsen’s said, “They [an audience] can expect a band that is always developing and negotiating this paradox between melodic, lyrical, almost pop music type jazz and the freedom of the moment, and an emphasis on textures and soundscapes in a way.”
Touring behind their latest release, Opening, released on ECM records, The Tord Gustavsen Trio is Steinar Raknes on bass, Jarles Vespestad on drums, and Tord Gustavsen on piano. Tickets at earshot.org.