Critics - English   [ LIVE REVIEWS AT THE BOTTOM ]

These are only reviews printed originally in English - click to view more translations from all over the world...

About The Ground:

  • "The Ground is uniformly beautiful, and the trio's rigorously restrained playing is a complete marvel. I've already saved space at the top of my 2005 list for The Ground." (JazzTimes - read the entire review)

  • "For a European group, Tord Gustavsen's trio has gained a lot of traction with American jazz listeners. Mr. Gustavsen .. appeals to dark emotions - not violent grief or anger so much as a kind of morbid ecstasy, turned into cinematic dimensions, neat consonance and molasses tempo. The band's overall sound is sleekly new, but Mr. Gustavsen's melodies point to durable elements of older culture: little figures that suggest gospel, pop, flamenco or Baroque music, or maybe a weepy standard that Frank Sinatra was singing in the early 50's. Anyway, he's got it: a pop-music quality, the charisma of sadness. This charisma plays out extra slowly, in minor keys and with a nearly stifling control over dynamics. .. You can call it obsession, the consistent and involuntary song of a melancholy soul; it's certainly pretty. .. I admire Mr. Gustavsen's professional discipline to strap himself to the strategy that works the best." (New York Times)

  • "The Ground is uniformly beautiful, and the trio's rigorously restrained playing is a complete marvel. I've already saved space at the top of my 2005 list for The Ground." (JazzTimes - read the entire review)

  • "Once again Gustavsen’s sensitivity, finesse and understatement shine through like quiet morning light illuminating an enchanted forest. There are no wasted notes, no gimmicks, no exercises in clever techniques, nothing but introspective jazz played with delicately layered elegance that you hope will be the thing you hear before the fragrance of memory perfumes your dreams. ... Tord Gustavsen’s The Ground is sublime beyond description; another quiet masterpiece from this gifted pianist." (Offbeat, New Orleans - read the entire review)

  • ".. a style full of implied meanings and inverted historical references. Contemplative but in no way spineless .. this is a fine recording that rewards repeated listening." (BBC Music Magazine, UK - * * * * for both sound and performance)

  • "Quiet, introspective jazz piano has rarely if ever been so flavorful or so, yes, compelling. The guys can literally weave spells with Gustavsen's ideas. ..  Several times during the writing of this review I stopped to allow this set's last three tunes, 'Interlude,' 'Token of Tango,' and 'The Ground'—all of them continuations of the somber mood and pensive thoughts that permeate the entire album—to carry me away. ..
      An artist to watch, Tord Gustavsen is one of the most intricate voices in jazz to emerge in many years." (Stereophile Magazine, US - recording of the month May 2005 - read the entire reveiw)

  • ".. spare and gorgeous melodies .. these quiet, slow, contemplative pieces use minor key shifts to form shafts of glinting light, philosophical soundtracks in which ruminations and ideas are set free to drift from the there-and-then to the here-and-now with a shimmering clarity." (Reno News & Reviews, US)

  • "The album is utterly gorgeous, I keep playing it for sheer pleasure. ... Gustavsen's touch and tone are ravishing, and Johnsen and Vespestad match him for quality, all captured in superb recorded sound. ... a mesmeric and enriching experience." (Jazzreview, UK)

  • ". tunes that are beguiling and beautiful. This is mucis that beckons you to listen." (The Saratogian, US)

  • "Tord has a very individual touch, a singing clarity of melodic line that he shares with the very finest jazz pianists, and a concept of group interplay in his trio that is to do with shared responsibility, rather than individual attention-grabbing." (Piano, UK

  • "On The Ground, Gustavsen once again demonstrates an enviable knack for penning compositions as simple, tuneful and seemingly inevitable as folk songs or hymns. ... Long months of touring have sharpened the band's reflexes, to the point that it breathes as a single organism. Vespestad fashions ever-surprising propulsion from little more than an implication of shimmering cymbals and rustling brushes; pianist and bassist trade lead and support roles with confidence and grace. ECM's typically warm and resonant yet detailed recording faithfully recaptures the trio's quiet fire." (Time Out New York)

  • "The music shimmers." (Village Voice, New York)

  • "one of the most beautiful and moving records I've heard. Gustavsen has the most delicate touch and a great sensitivity to the pure sound of the piano." (Northern Echo, UK)

  • "I was initially very sceptical. The reason for this was that at first hearing I thought it was too similar to their previous album, Changing Places ... However sustained listening .. changed all that. What you have here is a subtle development of earlier work and perhaps a detectable amount of loosening up. The beauty of this music lies not only in its melodic structure but also in Tord Gustavsen's restrained improvisation. ... Add this to your collection." (Oxford Times, UK)

  • "The Ground does not disappoint. The transparency that marked out Changing Places, has become more sharply defined, while the compositions are shaped with greater clarity of musical vision, allowing Gustavsen to weave his captivating, highly melodic improvisations to greater effect. Somehow this group draws you into its music, and each piece is a musical journey within the totality of the album itself. When the album is over you realize the extent to which this group has probed into the very heart of musical meaning. .. There really is not a piano trio in the whole of jazz that sounds like Gustavsen’s, which has continued to grow together into a remarkably integrated unit refining a vision of jazz that is very much its own." (Jazzwise - UK, read the entire reveiw)

  • "The most enthralling pianist/composer and trio to emerge for an age ... follow up the sensational Changing Places with a second set of pellucid ballads, ghostly tangos and gently twinkling ice-funk. Slightly freer than before, but no less stately, The Ground is reverie music of the highest order. … In short, this album will make your life better." (The Independent On Sunday)

  • "Soulfully hip. Haunting, hook-based themes delivered as a close three-way embrace. .. Gustavsen may not play many notes, but he does make them all count, and Vespestad's patient, multi-textured drumming is hypnotic listening." (The Guardian - UK * * * *)

  • "lyrically memorable and passionately sober originals -- melodic beauty and expressive execution" (Billboard - read the entire review)

  • "What's most striking about the way Gustavsen plays is the liquid, flowing quality of his motion. The pianist places careful emphasis on timing and dynamics. Together with bluesy colorations and gospelly phrasing, there's something spiritual about this collection of brief meditations. I'ts hard not to be swept away." (All About Jazz II)

  • "With the release of 'The Ground' Gustavsen once again shows why he has inspired such fervor of glowing recommendations. He skillfully maneuvers between the gentle staccatos of jazz and the melodies of the classical realm, and creates a space of tranquility and meditation, all with deft avoidance of the trap of being too cerebral. The lines are perfectly placed, and create a simple, solid structure for songs to inhabit. .. Gustavsen and Co. make music that is both subdued and sophisticated, a complexity of airy rumination that never acquiesces." (Washington Examnier, Alexandria, VA)

  • "Norwegian keyboardist Tord Gustavsen serves up a trio recording blessed with haunting, lyrical ice-country originals. Keith Jarrett fans will dig it." (

  • "I was most impressed with last year's album by this trio and this is just as good, one of the most beautiful and moving records I've heard. Gustavsen has the most delicate touch and a great sensitivity to the pure sound of the piano, with perfect support from Harald Johnsen and Jarle Vespestad." (Darlington & Stockton Times, UK)

  • "The second ECM release from Norwegian jazz pianist Tord Gustavsen .. soars with sheer lyrical beauty. Together with bassist Harald Johnsen and drummer Jarle Vespestad, Gustavson achieves stunningly elegant and beautifully meditative harmonies, at times seeming to draw chords from out of thin air. These pensive, meandering compositions manage to evoke both melancholy and bliss, and are infused with raw emotion." (Boston Herald -

  • "The Ground is another album of elegantly subtle miniatures that .. takes its steps forward gently and with care, yet doesn’t sacrifice the all-important element of risk that gives it its life and sophisticated energy." (All About Jazz - read the entire review)
  • ".. a definite spiritual flavour. The determining factor is Gustavsen's capacity for melody and for weaving graceful, even profound solos seamlessly from the fabric of each piece. But there is also Harald Johnsen's expressive bass and Jarle Vespestad's subtly imaginative drums to ingage intimately in an interplay that has grown even more secure and, in its understated way, more assertive." (Irish Times - * * * * * - read the entire review)

  • "a very focused recording - haunting, atmospheric and austerely beautiful" (Andy Hamilton, The Wire)

  • "The Ground takes up from where Changing Places left off and wallows in those feelings of faint melancholy you get when gazing out of the window on a wet Sunday afternoon. Gustavsen is a pianist of poetic cast, an exceptionally lucid player with a sure sense of melodic structure and an often astonishing lyrical imagination. Together with bassist Harald Johnsen and drummer Jarle Vespestad - who follow the precise contours of his compositions with unflappable taste - he creates music rich with inner meaning and nuance... Spellbinding stuff." (The Observer * * * * * - read the entire review)

  • ".. another collection of extremely carefully-judged illuminations. .. supremely calming." (BBC Jazz

  • "The Ground is an absorbing and contemplative cd, in which Gustavsen performs a series of originals with a grace, serenity and open-hearted lyricism that makes them immensely attractive. .. There's a quiet intensity at work in this music that makes it compelling." (Yorkshire Post)

  • "On the surface the music is classic ECM stuff -- quiet, cool, meticulously measured and sonically exquisite. But there is a lot more going on here. While the band play no jazz or American songbook standards, there is a complex intertangling of jazz strands -- and specifically Americna ones -- giving this music deep roots in jazz's past. While many European jazz musicians eschew the blues in order to assert their independence from the transatlantic jazz heritage, this band weaves it -- and gospel, and Cuban elements -- in below the surface. Beautiful tunes pour out of Tord Gustavsen with such apparant effortlessness that as a listener I find myself giggling with both pleasure and amazement. The album of the year and it has arrived ten months early. FIVE STARS" (Birmingham Post)

  • "... sounds like EST meets Keith Jarrett -- with the catchy tunes of the former and something approaching the emotional intensity of the latter. Go buy." (Time Out, UK)

  • ".. a bewitching blend of Scandinavian cool, gospel heat and hymnal calm. .. a hushed stately interplay, musical parts that murmur, nudge and conjain, an organic elegance." (Mojo, UK)

  • "Two years ago Tord Gustavsen became an unlikely success. His debut album, Changing Places, sold 60,000 copies which, for an unknown Norwegian playing low-key acoustic piano, was going some. No hype, no hip-hop beats, just music of spare beauty.
      The good news is that after two years of international touring, The Ground is better still — more focused, more melodically memorable, less abstract, and, in places, more funky. Gustavsen’s band does all the things you would expect an ECM label trio to do — pellucid, contemplative melodies ebb and flow over shimmering cymbals and brushed drums — but they do more besides. There are hints of gospel, the blues and those warm folksy melodies that Keith Jarrett wrote around the time of My Song. The trio also inject a subtle funk groove into Curtains Aside and Edges of Happiness. This year has already brought strong piano albums from EST and Lynne Arriale and the venerable Jarrett has a solo double ready; Gustavsen is up there with them." (Times Online * * * *)

  • "A wonderful follow-up, .. The Ground is possibly even better than the feted release, because the combination of the usual Nordic introspection with striking melodies is so effective" (The Independent, UK)

  • "the stately pace Gustavsen favours makes the melodic turns of his compositions and improvisations all the more profound and gorgeously suspenseful. .. Any track will confirm that this trio deserves to join ECM's pantheon of greats, but for proof of the joyous uplift that playing a Sonny Rollins-style carnival at tortoise tempo can inscite, try Curtains Aside."  (The Herald, UK)

  • "[T]his is another wonderful collection of music. Rather than simply repeat a winning formula, The Ground explores different territory. CP was built on the space around the music with the quiet studio air essentially being a fourth instrument. With the new album there's a more obvious blues feeling, a more driving swing and a busier dynamic between the trio members.
       The melodic beauty that marked the first album is still evident as is the amazing understanding between Tord (on piano), Harald Johnsen (double-bass) and Jarle Vespestad (drums). Where on Changing Places Jarle's astonishing drumming was serving more to add layers of depth, texture and feel, here there seems to be a more obvious virtuosity on show. Harald maintains his approach, which is built on transmitting more passion through his strings than most any other bass player I've heard. His tone, intonation and musical feel are simply faultless. And then there's Tords piano work. Passionate, tender, intuitive - these words keep coming to mind as I listen to his playing. He and the piano become one to a level that I've rarely heard.
       Don't buy The Ground expecting Changing Places II. Rather buy The Ground because it's beautiful, moving, and powerful. Buy it because it's played by one of the freshest sounding trios in modern jazz. Buy it because it's a great album. Buy it." (Craig Fenemor, AudioEnz - New Zealand)


About "Changing Places":

  • "Changing Places is a beauty ... Drummer Jarle Vepsestad is felt rather than heard much of the time, while bassist Harald Johnsen provides gentle, intelligent support and lovely, guitar-like solos. The leader's improvisations are 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)

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

  • "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

  • "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)

  • "... 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." (Where Y'at, New Orleans - US)

  • "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)

  • "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)

  • "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)

  • "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)

  • " * * * * 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)

  • "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." ( * * * * * 'Jazz CD of the week' - 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)

  • "A delicacy of touch and sense of dramatic denouement that can make the listener hang on to every melodic turn of phrase. His subtle snail's pace incorporation of gospel, tango and Cuban influences .. has a definite yearning allure and rewards repeated listenings." (The Herald, Glasgow - Scotland)

  • "The magic of music has rarely been in better hands than on this beautiful debut album by the trio of pianist Tord Gustavsen. An amalgam of Nordic beauty and quiet lyricism. This is music from the heart, softly spoken in its conception with a delicate sophistication all its own. But it's the seamless, melodic interplay of the trio that catches the ear. The music flows with subtle finesse." (The Australian - Australia)

  • "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)

  • "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)

  • "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)

  • "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 - US)

  • "Tord Gustavsen's phenomenal pianism sets itws own agenda and brings its own rich, refreshingly open-hearted rewards. This is a superb album." (Hill Rag - US)

  • "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)

  • "... 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)

  • "... slow music that melts off the bandstand into puddles of feeling, backed by a low-key funk rhyhm; it's séance music." (The New York Times)

  • "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)

  • "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)

  • "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)

  • "On Tord Gustavsen's breathtaking debut, the Norwegian pianist/composer casts a disarming spell with his subtle grace and delicate beauty. It's easy to just surrender and float away on the music's wistful elegance, as Gustavsen has created a peaceful space far away from the tumult of our bustling lives. Gustavsen exudes a flickering warmth and intimacy. ... Strong melodic sense heard throughout the session. In particular, appropriately titled originals such as "Graceful Touch" and "Melted Matter" are simply haunting. Because of the music's endearing quietude, it's easy to overlook the contributions of Gustavsen's flexible rhythm section, bassist Harald Johnsen and drummer Jarle Vespestad. In an almost invisible fashion, they create shifting undercurrents that are more pulsations than drive. Only toward the end of the slow-rising "Ign" do they pick up enough steam to approximate what we might consider standard jazz time. No, you wouldn't characterize this as a party album, unless, of course, you were having the most intimate of celebrations. * * * * " (Austin Chronicle - 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)

  • "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." (

  • "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)

  • Live review: "Gustavsen's music is often soft, but always intense. ... Even when he hits harder, Gustavsen is always evolving melody that serves the story. That story is about inner discovery, and Gustavsen can get there by whispering, or by rhythmic repetition that becomes incantatory. ... 
        Another reason that Gustavsen's music feels like one fabric is the integral role played by drummer Jarle Vespestad. On quiet numbers, Vespestad is willing to recede to the lightest splashes with brushes, or to the softest murmurings with mallets. But he is also a full participant when the music sweeps upward. Even when Vespestad is cutting loose, he comes from within the music, rather than imposing himself upon it. ...
        Tord Gustavsen is more than a promising new talent. He is already capable of providing a performance experience that is fascinating, affecting, and complete." (JazzTimes Internet edition, read the entire review)

  • Live review: "And even at its most splintered, the music remained intensely lyrical. ... Each player was given space to be heard separately; not in a cliché solo, routinely thrown in after so many bars, but as something genuinely arising from the progression of musical ideas. Harald Johnsen's work on bass epitomised this kind of intelligent exploration. There was nothing glib, either in his playing or the sound of his instrument. Barely amplified, it made all the clicks and thunks a proper double bass occasionally does as he crafted solos utilising the full range of the instrument.
        The performance of each piece was so seamless that, apart from a single drum solo, the only applause came at the end. The audience was quieter, and concentrated harder than any 'classical' audience I've encountered too.But the applause, when it came, was rapturous." (Music & Vision reviewing a concert in Bristol April 29th 2004, read the entire review)

  • Live review: "It's music that can convey more by implication than many another occasion will with fireworks or dancing bears, and the tunes, including the parting hymn, will likely stay longer in the mind." (The Glasgow Herald reviewing a concert in Glasgow May 13th 2004)

  • Live review: "Here jazz is deconstructed and then reconstructed into a beautiful new sound. Magical." (Oxford Times reviewing a concert in Oxford May 9th 2004, read the entire review)

  • Live review: "In a set remarkable for its musicality and expressivity, their self-imposed dynamic range ... drew you into to their music in the same way you instinctively lean forward in softly spoken conversation.
        Gustavsen is a pianist of poetic cast, a lucid soloist with a sure sense of melodic structure and an often astonishing lyrical imagination. With bassist Harald Johnsen and drummer Jarle Vespestad, who followed the precise contours of his compositions with unflappable taste, they created music rich with inner meaning and nuance.
        You won't hear a more elegant or aesthetically rounded concert all year" (The Observer reviewing a concert in Bristol April 29th 2004, read the entire review)

  • Live review: “Groove-based, extremely subdued and even sexually evocative, the music of Norway's Tord Gustavsen Trio was some of the most beautiful and certainly the quietest. This was about mood and feel, brought to life by the astonishing precision of drummer Jarle Vespestad, whose contribution is defining without being prominent. An extremely accomplished pianist, Gustavsen mostly just danced lightly around his glistening little melodies, underpinned by rhythms that, although not unusual in themselves, were fascinating because of the way they were stated.” (Sidney Morning Herald reviewing a concert at the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz October 31st 2004)

  • Live review: "But Tord Gustavsen's Norwegian trio is about less, not more. I have never heard a drummer play so little - and with such emotional impact - as Jarle Vespestad. In fact, all three players have a miraculous ability to pull you deeper and deeper into their orbit by leaving more and more space, until what you hear is almost nothing more than a memory.
        The lightness of Gustavsen's touch and the luminosity of his melodies can make this music almost unbearably beautiful. But there are also unexpected flashes of the blues, along with a remarkable ability to coax even the most delicate, lullaby-like sway into an unmistakeable - and irresistible - groove.
        But while the joyful fervour of gospel bubbles beneath the surface of this trio's playing, the overall mood is one of quiet restraint and extraordinary tenderness. There is an uplifting, almost hymnal quality to Gustavsen's writing, and in the hands of these three exceptional players, each tune resonates with the grace and subtle optimism of a wordless prayer.” (The Age - Melbourne, reviewing a concert at the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz October 31st 2004)

  • Live review: ".. a dream of a performance by a dream of a group. .. If there is another jazz group playing this well at the moment, I'd be very surprised. .. what strikes you perhaps most of all is firstly how tastefully they have chosen their influences (Gustavsen's piano playing has a very strong gospel-jazz lilt) and, secondly, how they have now truly outgrown them. The Tord Gustavsen Trio sounds like no one but itself." (The Indenpendant, UK, reviewing a concert at the Lichfield Festival July 16 2005 - read the entire review)

  • Live review: "As evenings of quiet intensity go, they don’t come much more quiet or intense than a set by the Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen .. he placed beautifully crafted, delicate melodies over the subtle drum rhythms of Jarle Vespesad and the bass of Harald Johnsen .. At the end, one feels cleansed, refreshed and renewed.." (The Times, UK, reviewing a concert in Birmingham October 2005  - read the entire review)

  • Live review: "... the phenomenal control, restraint and imagination of drummer Jarle Vespestad. .. Enthralling interaction between Gustavsen and Vespestad was a hallmark. .. luminous melodies and hints of tangos and hymns." (John Shand / Sydney Morning Herald reviewing a concert at Sydney Festival January 15th, 2006)

  • Live review: "In a .. complete and glorious concert, he mainly played original pieces from his two recent sublime discs, Changing Places and The Ground. He stroked and caressed the keyboard, a slight, hunched figure immersed in the rolling chords and notes he coaxed from themiddle register of the piano, rarely moving to the flashy end of the keyboard. Sometimes his melodies seem to indicate other songs and glimpses from the past, haunting with nostalgia and knowing but always reassuring and infused with tenderness and ecstasy. .. in the centre of the stage sat one of the most extraordinary drummers ever to visit these shores. Vespestad slid over his small kit, using silence as if it were notes and sound. A few beats of mallets across his skins was a simple entry to the majestic Where Breathing Starts and his Zen-like smile and brush swipe across a cymbal was the perfect end to a unique concert." (Michael Rofe / The Australian, reviewing a concert at Sydney Festival January 15th, 2006)

  • Live review: "One could .. describe the way Gustavsen's jewel-like melodies seem to dance across a shimmering surface while tapping into a deep well of emotion. Or the way he compels you to listen more and more closely by retreating further and further towards silence.
      One could point to the unerring lyricism with which Harald Johnsen's bass anchors the rich harmonies, or wraps around Gustavsen's piano lines to create parallel, contrapuntal conversations.
      And one could marvel at the miraculously understated approach of Jarle Vespestad, who is not so much a drummer as a close-up conjurer, able to build and maintain an irresistible, groove-laden momentum with almost imperceptible rhythmic gestures.
      In the end, though, the profound emotional impact of this music has very little to do with technique. And, ravishingly beautiful as Gustavsen's tunes are, one gets the impression that he and his colleagues could play a TV jingle and cast the same sensory spell. This is the point where words start to seem inadequate, and feelings and responses come into play. In fact, perhaps the most meaningful way to describe this trio's music is in terms of its effect on the listener.
      Tuesday night's concert at Melba Hall was an intensely moving experience. Gustavsen, in particular, radiates such a palpable sense of openness and trust - in his colleagues, in the free-spirited flow of the music, and in the audience - that it's impossible not to respond. And there's a subtle but powerful optimism at work that makes his compositions feel like an angel's embrace, or a reassuring hand on one's shoulder.
      Even more deliciously, there's an unmistakable glow of sensuality coursing through each tune - often hovering seductively beneath the surface, but occasionally propelled by the trio into a tension-filled torrent that produces an exhilaration so complete that it might almost be called ecstasy. (Jessicha Nicholas / The Age reviewing a concert in Melbourne January 17th, 2006 - read the entire review)

  • Live review: "Together they conjure impressionistic narratives. Stylistically, they allude to whispers of tango, latin, blues and funk. They hover around these styles, flirting and teasing with them but never owning them. Always lyrical, seductive and wistful the themes of works such as Twins and Still There are ignited by chromatic inclinations. Gustavsen toys with the intensity of the chromaticism until the energy dissipates into more palatable and candid harmonic schemes.
      The work of this trio is about the generation of colours. In this, the contribution of Vespestad is crucial. His signature use of tympani mallets at some points and two different mallets at the same time give the familiar drum set a rhythm make over. The pulse is never spelt out – there is an unconscious yet conscious pulse that threads. The synchronicity and the seamless baton between the musicians borders on the extraordinary and this is what makes the experience compelling.  With beauty at the forefront, Gustavsen's piano is the protagonist of these tales. He extracts the essence of his music like an alchemist." (Xenia Hanusiak / Melbourne Herald Sun reviewing a concert in Melbourne January 17th 2006)