This release signals in the then 33-year old, Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen's debut outing for the ECM Records label. His fellow compatriots, bassist Harald Johnsen and drummer Jarle Vespestad, round out this jazz piano trio offering. Fundamentally speaking, the group seemingly works its palate into that classic "ECM Records" aesthetic, comprising echo-laden sonic characteristics and a chamber-esque vibe.
Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen has built a huge and enthusiastic worldwide following through his ECM discs and touring, and 'Restored, Returned' will broaden that popularity still further. After a trilogy of trio recordings - 'Changing Places', 'The Ground', and 'Being There' - which explored a clearly-demarcated melodic terrain, here is a strikingly different album from Tord Gustavsen at the head of a reconfigured band. Into the group come two Norwegian improvisers familiar to ECM listeners, bassist Mats Eilertsen and saxophonist Tore Brunborg.
"The Ground" reveals a stronger sense of purpose and a greater conceptual rigour than "Changing Places" , the trio's debut album. Without sacrificing the clear-edged melodic sensibility that can already be considered one of the hallmarks of Gustavsen’s writing, the musicians are better able to do improvise within the structure of the pieces. An immediate popular success, "The Ground" topped Norway's pop charts in its second week of release.
Two years after “Restored, Returned” introduced this line-up and with extensive touring behind them, on “The Well” the four musicians of the Gustavsen Quartet really blossom as a band in a programme of new tunes by Tord. Sax player Tore Brunborg is given an important voice here, his melodic lines combining bluesy sonority and Nordic cry. Gently but effectively propelled by the subtle pulses of drummer Jarle Vespestad and bassist Mats Eilertsen, Gustavsen’s gospel-tinged, unhurried piano playing displays a characteristic warmth and tenderness.
A new Tord Gustavsen album is ready for release. The long awaited session "Restored, Returned" with Tord's extended ensemble will be in stores world-wide early 2010. And a pre-release is scheduled mid-October 2009 for UK and Norway to coincide with touring. There will be a full scale UK tour in October; release concerts in Norway in November, and a main performance at the London Jazz Festival November.
What was said brings new colours to Tord Gustavsen’s musical palette. His latest trio project builds upon the subtle understanding of his long musical association with drummer Jarle Vespestad, introduces German-Afghan vocalist Simin Tander, and explores the tradition of Norwegian church music in untraditional ways: “For the repertoire of the new project, Simin and I have been working with Afghan poet B. Hamsaaya, translating and shaping a selection of hymns that I grew up with in Norway into Pashto,” Gustavsen explains. “This process has been challenging and really fruitful. We have gone quite far in interpreting the lyrics in a more ‘integral’ manner, reaching into a space where I feel that Sufism and Christianity actually meet.”
On this third outing for ECM, pianist/composer Tord Gustavsen comes full circle on Being There. When he signed to the label in 2003, issuing his debut, Changing Places, he and his collaborators – bassist Harald Johnsen and drummer Jarle Vespestad – dug deeply into close-knit quarters, creating a detailed yet expressionistic examination of the more melancholy human emotions. Being There completes a trilogy of elegantly layered, spacious jazz from the most introspective elements.