Sunday, October 18, 2009

E.S.T. - Retrospective (ACT Music, 2009)

When the leader of this much loved piano trio, Esbjorn Svensson, passed away in a tragic accident it left a gaping hole in the burgeoning European jazz scene. E.S.T. was able to cross over and gain fans in the pop world without ever losing sight of their jazz roots. Joined by drummer Magnus Ostrom and bass player Dan Berglund they made for a formidable group, adding subtle electronics and studio touches to their unique compositions. This disc samples the band's output for the ACT label, under which they went from respected jazz trio to legitimate cultural phenomenon. Their performances ran the gamut from the spare and introspective like the opener of this collection "From Gagarin's Point of View" which matches the awe that a space traveler must feel to the upbeat and bouncy "Dodge the Dodo" which winds the group moving at a breakneck pace. As the disc tracks the bands evolution into the mid and late 2000's subtle touches of pop music begin to enter the bands repertoire. The title tracks to the bands Viaticum and A Strange Place for Snow LPs appear here and the addition of brush strokes of electronics give the band a wider palette to expand their compositions and improvisations. Looking for a way to expand their audience and challenge themselves, the music moves and evolves in gradual shifts, sometimes evoking progressive rock or classical music. Like the best work of Americans Ben Allison and The Bad Plus, the music of E.S.T. marked a great point of entry of fans who were curious about jazz, but unsure where to begin listening. Their pithy compositions and thoughtful and exciting improvising made a definite mark during their brief time together.
Retrospective -

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