BIAMP Portland Jazz Festival: Tord Gustavsen Trio at The Old Church
Pianist Tord Gustavsen has released nine albums on ECM Records with his ensemble and trio. His music has been met by a huge volume of critical approval around the world.
After playing primarily in trio format for several years, Tord launched his new project, Tord Gustavsen Ensemble in 2008, with a commissioned work for the Vossajazz Festival in Norway, followed by a new recording in 2009. In 2011-2015, the quartet was Tord’s major touring ensemble formation, alongside duo and trio formats with the musicians in the ensemble. He did extended projects with Kristin Asbjørnsen and Susanna Wallumrød joining the ensemble on vocals, with Cecilie Jørstad doing spoken word, and with Nils Økland on fiddle/violin.
In 2016, the ensemble was supplemented with a new, alternative trio featuring Afghan-German singer Simin Tander and Jarle Vespestad on drums, for album release and extensive touring, presenting an intriguing project of ancient Norwegian hymns re-worked as Sufi-poems translated into the Afghan language Pashto; the mother-tongue of Simin’s late father.
In 2018, it was again time to release an album in piano trio format, featuring bass player Sigurd Hole and drummer Jarle Vespestad. While relating to his first trilogy of trio albums, Tord’s new album also integrates subtle electronics, and it paradoxically sounds both deeper, darker and more open than the first trio did.
In 2022, Tord continues the journey in trio format, now introducing bass player Steinar Raknes alongside drummer Jarle Vespestad, for a trio that takes inventive interplay and humble virtuosity to yet another level.
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 most important Norwegian singers, including Solveig Slettahjell, Silje Nergaard, Siri Gjære, and Kristin Asbjørnsen. The urge for individual expression fuses with acutely attentive listening in creative interplay, making Tord a very special experience both as a soloist and as an ensemble player.
While relating to fields like Scandinavian folk music, gospel, Caribbean music and cool jazz alike, Tord’s ensembles present a unique universe of lyricism and subtle funkiness. His way of melding jazz history with ‘Nordic’ reflective moods and lyrical beauty brings about an intriguing voice on today’s music scene.
In addition to the albums under his own name, Tord can be heard on more than 30 other albums with different line-ups. There are releases with singers Solveig Slettahjell, Kristin Asbjørnsen, Mahsa Vahdat, Silje Nergaard; the choirs SKRUK, Det norske jentekor, and Oslo Cathedral Choir; the bands Nymark Collective, the Ulrich Drechsler Quartet, Carl Petter Opsahl; and the duo aire & angels, which was Tord’s very first recording project in 1998.