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The Ground

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Album Review

In the proto-typical Scandinavian ECM style of modern jazz oriented music, pianist Tord Gustavsen follows the path of previous progenitors influenced by Bill Evans, forged by Keith Jarrett, and extended by the likes of Mike Nock. This is certainly late-night, nocturnal music, completely reserved and relaxing, ultra-melodic, calm, peaceful, and non-threatening. Rarely does a tempo move beyond medium, a dynamic merge above mezzo piano, and any mood goes farther than moderately cool. Well within this consistent timbre, Gustavsen and his trio show a modicum of diversity and influences. Fellow ECM labelmate Bobo Stenson's style and technique is most extant during the lilting "Edges of Happiness," "Twins" is spiritual, calm, and light but not somber, while "Token of Tango" is perfectly representative of its title. "Curtains Aside" mixes march rhythm in 6/8 with a regal light funk, the delicate waltz "Being There" is reminiscent of "The Shadow of Your Smile," while darker ballads "Colours of Mercy" and "Sentiment" sport undoubtedly religious overtones. Gustavsen, while playing laid-back, pristine, pretty, and serene music, is far from challenging convention or pushing the envelope. Conversely, his personal voice is fully realized. Time will tell whether this style finds a worldwide audience, moves away from this type of contemporary texture music, or takes the approach he has established to any more extreme measures, even softer or more forceful. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Customer Reviews

You can hear history in this music

And intellect. Meaningful, single notes, contemplative phrasing, and haunting melodies. With a decisiveness that can equal Ellington’s piano solos. These are the tunes that make me stop and really listen to them when they come up on my Piano playlist. And they make me want to sit down with a glass of red wine and think about life—and how good it can get.

Very tasty from top to bottom!

I absolutely love this album and it is that--an album. Works flow and relate to each other. Melodies are haunting, innovative & accessible, even to those who normally wouldn't like jazz. Piano work is fantastic, so is the drums and bass; truly a trio that works together I' ve played "Curtains Aside" to death but other tracks bear repeating multiple times. Check out their other album as well. You'll like it, too.


This album is simply amazing! I first heard of the trio on iTunes ("Curtains Aside" was a free download about a year or two ago) and I've been a fan ever since. It's rare to find a jazz artist that can appeal to everyone (including friends of mine who aren't jazz fans) but the trio and this album has done it. The album has an intellectual and sophisticated sound that relaxes you while it makes you think. There isn't a single track on the album that makes you regret buying the entire thing. I recommend it to anyone who likes good music, especially the jazz newbies.


Born: October 5, 1970 in Oslo, Norway

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Before he started his trio, Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen was already very much involved in his country's jazz scene. Contributions to releases by groups like the Silje Nergaard Band, the Ulrich Drechsler Quartet, and others had already helped to establish him as one of Norway's top players. In 2003, signed to ECM, Gustavsen, along with drummer Jarle Vespestad and bassist Harald Johnsen, released Changing Places, which was followed in 2005 with Ground. Two years later, Being There, what Gustavsen...
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The Ground, Tord Gustavsen Trio
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Customer Ratings