Critics - English translations and originals

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)

  • ".. a style full of implied meanings and inverted historical references.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)

  • "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)

  • "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)

  • "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)

  • "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)

  • "His original songs resonate with solid, reassuring melodies and spare improvisations that are at once accessible and comforting. This trio thrives on understatement but the results are never less than warmly engaging. It's gratifying to hear the TG Trio emerge as a fully formed unit with genuinely fresh ideas and musical stories to tell." (Primetime, UK)

  • "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 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)

  • "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 * * * *)

  • "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 - UK)

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

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

  • "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)

  • "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 swpt 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)

  • "[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)

  • ".. 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)  

  • "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. 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

  • "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 - critics' choice March 2005)

  • ".. 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)

  • "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. 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 * * * *)

  • "I want to stay in this musical space. For a long time." (Aftenposten - Norway)

  • "12 beautifully crafted piano meditations" (Dagbladet - Norway)

  • "Listening to this is liberating. Melodic phrasing and beautiful trio interaction, where the division between improvised and arranged music is transcended. A splendid new album." (Dagsavisen - Norway)

  • "In a world of so much caos, Tord Gustavsen's musical language carries comfort and makes you whole. ... Great players. ... You wonder how he is able to make the piano sing this way." (Dagens Næringsliv - Norway)

  • "Heavenly hymnal jazz. These are hymns without words. Contemplative music that sooths you soul." (Vårt Land - Norway)

  • "12 pieces so melodic, insistent and original. Improvisations are beautifully integrated in the total work. Together, Gustavsen, Johnsen and Vespestad make an integrated organism. It's hard to create music more beautiful than this." (puls.no - Norway