Share this article

print logo

Pianist, poet

It depends, I guess, on whom one believes about the Tord Gustavsen Trio.

His ECM discs "are among the most evocative piano jazz records ever produced . . . Think the Bill Evans Trio on hallucinogens," wrote Robert Baird of Stereophile.

"A lyric poet of the piano," Thomas Conrad wrote on

Throw in "mysticism," "romanticism," "dreamlike" and "subtlety" in the most frequently used vocabulary stuck by writers from all over the world to the 37-year-old Norwegian jazz pianist (he was born in 1970 five weeks after another brainy current jazz piano wonder, Brad Mehldau).

On the other hand, there are those who have been known to wonder, amid all that piano stillness, introspection and tonal daubing, if up-tempos had suddenly been declared illegal in Norway. Bill Evans, after all, could burn in his prime -- and, at the end of his life, sounded hallucinogenic, too.

Gustavsen has answered doubts eloquently. "Sometimes I really appreciate doing an up-tempo tune every once in a while," he told Stuart Nicholson in 2005. "But it's a matter of discovering where you can get in the zone and where you can really build something that has integrity and has a life of its own. . . . Playing up-tempo is really just an easy solution, because you get contrast automatically. That's not the kind of showbiz we want to do."

Gustavsen is an artist at the keyboard, clearly -- and no record label over the past three decades has been more hospitable to such musicians than ECM, which clearly loves the pianist and his trio.

There is no question that they are capable of piano trio jazz of sublime beauty.

They're the second attraction in the Hunt Real Estate Art of Jazz series at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Albright-Knox Gallery. A preconcert talk by programmer Bruce Eaton will be offered at 7 p.m.

-- Jeff Simon

There are no comments - be the first to comment