Critics - English translations and originals

About "Changing Places":

  • "Changing Places is a beauty ... yearning, tender meditations, occasionally coloured with the palest of the Blues, and the compositions have the quiet, sometimes folky ecstacies of Pat Metheny's or Keith Jarrett's ballads, with a quiet insistence that'll have you humming them for days to come. Gustavsen's music is .. fresh, intuitive and heartfelt. A truly beautiful record that (if there's any justice) will find a place as one of ECM's finest releases of the last few years, and probably a place in your heart too. Gorgeous." (BBC Jazz - read the entire review)

  • "Piano playing that really shines; and that is bravely relaxed. ... The trio possesses the unique ensemble quality that gives three players a fourth voice. The more I listen, the more I like the un-sweetened beauty of this music. And what a wonderful phrasing Gustavsen displays; in melody stating and in improvisations alike. His solos are on-the-spot-compositions of a standard that only the best musicians are capable of -- the likes of Pat Metheny and Keith Jarrett" (Göteborgsposten - Sweden)

  • "One hour of pure sensuality. ... Tord Gustavsen is absolutely outstanding.
    An incredible sensibility, a touch of an indescribable sweetness… But without an ounce of sticky sentimentality. An intense groove but in a low voice; a sonorous singing but with sealed lips. ... they are masters of feelings rediscovered." 
    (JazzMan - leading French jazz magazine; honoring the cd with a "choc"; it's highest critical award. Click to read the entire translation)

  • "Original music that is soulful, meditative and eccentric. .. Changing Pleaces does not swing so much as sway, somewhere between folk music and modern chamber piano trio jazz. .. Insistent to remain in repose. * * * * Downbeat - read the entire review)"

  • "A Nightclub Made Churchlike by Softness of Sound and Touch. -- pleasingly disjunctive, conceptually airtight presentation." (New York Times - concert review)

  • "... an exquisite mix of slow passionate sounds and sparse melodies" (NPR Radio - nationwide US public radio; click to listen to audio review with music)

  • "Distinct, elegant, dexterous. .. Severity of a supple phrasing without facilitation and variegated by surprises. ... a longing lyricism, a personnel paw that explores secretly learned registers. If this is music from a bar, the trio of this Norwegian pianist found the bar in Heaven." (24 Heures, Switzerland)

  • "Impressive. The band's 'subtle funkiness' makes the cd both instantly memorable and worthy of repeated plays." (The Independant, UK)

  • " * * * * A very enjoyable album. .. The music works. It's good to listen to. Two pluses and no minuses adds up to something worthwhile." (Jazzwise - UK)

  • "Utterly distinctive and arresting. .. Each and every touch on the keyboard is not just a note being struck, but a carefully sculpted sound of almost breathtaking passion and beauty. .. Gustavsen and his fellow Norwegians breathe some soul and fire into everything they do.
       All compositions are by Gustavsen, and each is a different mode of seduction: The accumulative effect could be described as aural love-making. ...  Unreservedly recommended as one of the key releases of the year." (Sydney Morning Herald - Australia, read the entire review)

  • "... a newcomer composer/pianist whose music radiates in trio. His rhythm section provides elegant and sophisticated accompaniment. Each tune is richly expressive, but also exceptionally melodic and highly memorable. Gustavsen's melodies seem compellingly familiar; but each tune is a fresh original with just the right ratio of improvisation and structure." (JazznewsRendezvous, South Africa)

  • "Tord Gustavsen’s Changing Places is one of the most beautiful piano trio recordings that I’ve come across in quite some time. This seamless group understands the magic of music. The original compositions are subtle works of quiet beauty played with sublime grace, attentiveness and, above all, reverence for the feeling of jazz. These compositions sound like familiar standards, underscoring Gustavsen’s understated craftsmanship and natural ability to express what he calls the 'dialectical eroticism of improvisation.' There isn’t a single forced note here; the music is meticulous and succinct, yet always soulful and as expressive as the movements of a quiet dancer. The melodic interplay between Gustavsen, bassist Harald Johnsen and drummer Jarle Vespestad punctuates Changing Places with a sense of finesse that makes this music sparkle – a truly perfect recording." ( - New Orleans, USA)

  • "Changing Places will make the personal short list of favorite late-night jazz recordings for everyone who hears it. Gustavsen possesses a reflective lyric sensibility that overlays seamlessly on midnight. ... firm musical substance beneath that dreamy, seductive, alluring surface. ... His lines compel close attention through their absence of cliché." (JazzTimes, USA - read the entire review

  • "Gustavsen is a master of pianistic control and restraint, and he is at least matched by bassist Harald Johasen, whose double bass indeed 'walks,' but with the intricate complexity of a daddy-long-legs; and by drummer Jane Vespestad, whose subtle resectionings of time are, as often as not, played with his bare hands. All three play like virtuosos who have not the slightest interest in showcasing their chops. This is the least grandstanding great jazz album I have heard since Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. ... With his very first record as a leader, Tord Gustavsen has created an instant classic." (Stereophile Magazine, US; rewarding the album with top 5 stars for both performance and sound)

  • "Deceptively simple at first, Changing Places is a gorgeous album that provides layers of substance on repeated listening. This is one disc that will be in my CD player for months to come." (Jazzitude - read the entire review)

  • "This is a superb album." (Hill Rag - USA)

  • "Though he is only in his 30s, Gustavsen's tunes exude the grace of a seasoned master. This is recommended listening of the highest order." (The Saratogian - USA)

  • "Changing Places is an unusual achievement ... Technical display is at a premium, and the compositions are beguiling simple and intensely melodic. Gustavsen avoids flourishes of emotion, and while it's brave to begin an album at the funereal pace of 'Deep As Love', it's braver still to continue that way. But this is a tempo which allows real improvisation, as Lee Konitz would put it. 'Turning Point' in particular is hauntingly beautiful. Changing Places is a distinctive achievement and marks the emergence of a potentially major talent." (Andy Hamilton, Jazz Review - Editor's Choice)

  • "... a prayer- or hymnlike quality reminiscent of the best Charlie Haden. ... Gustavsen sounds as if he's taking his time even when cramming notes into a run, a feeling that is enhanced by the deceptive funk delivered by his rhyhtm section. His trio is that rare thing: a sophisticated amalgam that doesn't beat you over the head with its groove sense or its smarts." (TimeOut New York - read the entire review)

  • "Both Changing Places and Kind of Blue have that hip, hypnotic underwater sort of momentum that leaves you blissed-out and snapping your fingers at the same time. You have the sense of being trapped in a single song for an entire album. The trap is entirely pleasurable given the caressing, singing way the trio holds notes, and an underlying Latin rhythmic tinge that does impart needed energy at slow speeds. The feeling is high, yes. Catatonic, no." (The New York Observer - read the entire review)

  • "On Tord Gustavsen's breathtaking debut, the Norwegian pianist/composer casts a disarming spell with his subtle grace and delicate beauty. * * * * " (Austin Chronicle - read the entire review)

  • "A newcomer composer/pianist whose music radiates in trio. His rhythm section provides elegant and sophisticated accompaniment. Each tune is richly expressive, but also exceptionally melodic and highly memorable. Gustavsen’s melodies seem compellingly familiar; but each tune is a fresh original with just the right ratio of improvisation and structure." ( - read the entire review)

  • "Pianist Tord Gustavsen and his trio redefine Scandinavian jazz with Changing Places, an album of miniatures that marry Norwegian folk music with classical impressionism, gospel, blues, Afro-Cuban and New Orleans-influenced music in a new and fresh way. Drummer Jarle Vespestad brings out the subtleties and dynamic range of his instrument in a way few drummers have. Bassist Harald Johnsen has a rich, warm tone that allows him to explore the space between the notes. Changing Places is the first record from an important new piano trio. Lyrical and eminently accessible, yet always challenging, the Tord Gustavsen Trio is a group to watch." (Planet Jazz, Canada - read the entire review)

  • "Very little of the 'cold' feel that so many Norwegian acts have, this music is based around small miniatures that are intensely lyrical and melodic. With a contemporary harmonic approach, yet roots which dig back to hard bop, Afro-Cuban, gospel, blues, New Orleans and Norwegian folk music, this is music that is sometimes literally as quiet as a whisper (the drummer almost seemed to breathe on his drums sometimes it was so quiet) and never gets past a mid-level. The music explores a mid-tempo range almost exclusively, but really mines the wealth of metric divisions that are available in order to keep things interesting. Gustavsen is almost like a young Jarrett (including some very, very quiet vocalizations) in terms of his apparent (and I use that term with intent) abandon to his music. This is a trio not to be missed. Changing Places, on ECM, is a strong recommendation for anyone who is a fan of sensual, melodic piano trio music that manages to keep its edge and avoid the pitfall of degenerating into a lounge sound." (, Canada - concert and album review)

  • "Small vignettes that are emotionally evocative in their unfolding beauty. Gustavsen, drummer Jarle Vespestad and bassist Harald Johnsen are adept at sharing the music’s slow propulsion in such a way that they end up moving and sounding like one instrument. Gustavsen’s writing is full of wistful character. He builds powerfully resilient melodies with grace and brevity. This music seems to step out of both genre and time." (Metroland, New York - USA)

  • "Gustavsen is meticulous and tasteful on thirteen originals that have an almost meditative air about them. The organic music mix and interaction among the players is so hypnotic one isn't aware of arpeggios that eddy and flow, dexterously rendered harmonics, and gently constructed block chords, simply because the result is such a spellbinding cosmos. "Changing Places" introduces a potent new keyboard voice." (Jazz Online)

  • "Gentle melodies that float through the air with romantic wings. The amazing thing about Changing Places is that a casual listen leads you to believe that you are hearing a variety of well-performed standards, but in actuality all the songs are newly written, original compositions by Gustavsen. 'Where Breathing Starts,' 'Melted Matter' and 'Your Eyes' are gracefully performed with Harald Johnsen's bass and Jarle Vespestadt's drums adding their subtle vocabulary to Gustavsen's sharply sublime licks on the piano.
    Changing Places will set you on your way to a lushly colored internal odyssey of pleasant relaxation." (The Scene, Wisconsin - read the entire review)

  • "[I]ntensely lyrical ... a wealth of emotional nuance. The pianist's touch travels from impossibly delicate to powerfully confident. This is a book that is difficult to put down." (The Columbus Dispatch - US)

  • "There’s no other point but excellence in this breath of fresh jazz. [M]elodically strong sinuous sensuality and corresponding harmonic chord changes seduce one’s neural biochemistry, giving rise to what we know as sheer pleasure. Drummer, pianist and bassist all enjoy a fine touch, rooted energy, attractive tone, depth and prudent technical prowess. ... [O]ne of the best recordings of 2003. This trio issues forth great depth, finesse and beauty. (All About Jazz - read the entire review)

  • "This Norwegian pianist has a touch; a sensibility; that places him among the great romantic players" (Vibrations - France)

  • "Revelation! A sensuality that is extreme and paradoxical; a subtle combination of massive feeling and careful sharing. (Virgin Megapresse - France)

  • "Suddenly old is new; the extraordinary debut of Tord Gustavsen Trio. Tord Gustavsen loves melodies. He turns to them as if the piano could sing, with great care for phracing and timbre. His compositions are like standards that don't exist; vibrating with subtle nuances." (Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany)

  • "Jazz is seldom this strong. Gustavsen's compositions are musical medicine for your ears. They unite melodic immediacy with atmospheric strength. But also with intriguing improvisations in top standard trio interaction. Their beauty is not just tender, it is also full of intensity." (Abendzeitung München - Germany)

  • "A masterpiece built on lyrical themes. Astonishing confidence in play with traditional forms, yet telling unique stories." (Jazz Zeitung - Germany)

  • "Persuasive and eloquent, yet emphatically softspoken and delicate. Gustavsen has a rootsy sound which relies more on implication than direct articulation, which means that relatively simple melodies carry more weight than their spareness might suggest. He employs the tools of modern jazz, but without self-consciously drawing attention. Most evident is the degree of interaction among these three players.
    Harald Johnsen's appearance foretells a fertile future for the bassist. Johnsen has a rare kind of intuition that no amount of education or training can produce." (All About Jazz - read the entire review)

  • "His piano has a crystalline sound and also in virtue of really dilated rhythms fascinates with its freshness and lyricism. All the tracks are written by the leader who, thanks to his refined touch, is clever to combine in an optimal way the jazz tradition, and in some pieces the blues, with the northern taste for rarefaction and meditation, ... moreover the building of ballads distinguished by melodies with a marked poetic taste and quiet beauty. 'Changing Places' stands out as a very interesting work, new and fresh making well hoping for the future of this talent." (Jazzer - Italy)

  • "The interplay of bass and piano is right up there with Bill Evans and Scott LaFaro at their best. Harold Johnsen's bass solo's are inventive and his touch throughout the album inspired. While tracks such is IGN shows that Tord is very happy really working the keyboard, generally he caresses a note or two into being, lets you savour them and then presents you with more. The other aspect that strikes me in this album is no matter how good the solos are you aren't hanging out for the next one. The gentle interplay of instruments is just as rewarding as the individual features. I'll happily admit that I'm a soppy old romantic but honestly, I can't remember ever being so moved by an album. The tenderness of the playing on a song such as "Where Breathing Starts" is impossible to put into words. I know it's only the start of September but I'm 99.99% sure that I've found my release of the year." (Audioenz, New Zealand - read the entire review)

  • "Jazz debut of the year so far." (The Independant on Sunday, UK)

  • "A mesmeric record with a seductive tone and compelling intensity." (MOJO, UK)

  • "Lovely piano trio album. ... a direct, anadorned style that allows ideas to breathe and develop. Gustavsen has an underlying strength of character, conception and individuality to what he does that marks him as one to watch. Gorgeous." (Irish Times, Ireland)

  • "One of the most mature debut discs in recent years. A gentle touch, a strong sense of melody and a very expressive way of communcating. * * * * * " (Birmingham Post, UK)

  • "This debut session is simply exquisite with a beautiful combination of very expressive lyricism and a clearly defined if subtle swing." (Northern Echo, UK)

  • "Surrender to the musical universe of Gustavsen. It's a cd of great beauty. Songs that has something to tell me; like short, graceful poems" (Dagsavisen - Norway)

  • "This is one of the most astonishing debut jazz CD's I have ever listened to. They have found that which is so hard to find but which seems so simple when it's there. It's musical lyricism of the highest standards" ( - Norway)

  • "This has become a unique album. Like a film for your inner eye. It is extremely beautiful -- an invitation to contemplative listening" (Dagens Næringsliv - Norway)