Tord Gustavsen Trio: Opening

Minimalist pianist and trio exploit minuscule fragments, brief chord chains and scarce hints of motifs to maximum effect


With Steinar Raknes the new bassist, but everything else much the same, the Tord Gustavsen trio continues on its minimalist path, developing the traits and styles explored on its earlier works while expanding its soundscapes in more organic ways.

The sense of spaciousness is as wide as ever, the melodies revealed at their own pace and in their own time, entering when it feels natural. More than ever, Gustavsen dwells on minuscule fragments, brief chord chains and scarce hints of motifs, developing the material patiently: “It’s something I’ve been doing a lot in solo concerts. Having themes just appear out of the dark and disappearing back into a shady undercurrent.”

The music is the usual mix of Gustavsen compositions and traditional pieces, here a Swedish folk song, Visa Från Rättvik, and two concluding Norwegian melodies from folk music and the hymnal.

Throughout, Raknes establishes the firm counterpoint in the music, as he is an extroverted bass player who likes to take the central stage but is also highly supportive, shifting with ease between background, collective and solo roles. Jarle Vespestad is as subtle and quiet as ever, Gustavsen always precise and evocative.

The interplay between the three is note perfect, the album another triumph in demonstrating that less is often more.

The Circle; Findings/Visa Från Rättvik; Opening; The Longing; Shepherd Song; Helensburgh Tango; Re-Opening; Findings II; Stream; Ritual; Fløytelåt/The Flute; Vær Sterk, Min Sjel (48.41)
Gustavsen (p); Steinar Raknes (b, elec); Jarle Vespestad (d). Lugano, Switzerland, October 2021.
ECM 4540243