Seven Days of Falling – Esbjorne Svensson Trio
Superstudio Gul C-6
Ahh, the piano trio (one of my favorite subjects). There’s Ahmad Jamal’s classic group with Israel Crosby and Vernell Fournier (please, pick up But Not For Me); Keith Jarrett’s longstanding association with Gary Peacock and Jack De Johnette (try out Standards, vol. 1); Duke’s disc with Mingus and Roach (please, pick up Money Jungle).
But this stuff’s not necessarily fresh. And I don’t mean that in the Will Smith sense of the word, because it is fresh in that way (come on, Will was the man back in the day, and so was Mingus). But it’s just not new, it’s not current.
So what are we working with today? Well, there are these dudes called Medeski, Martin and Wood (ever heard of ‘em?). And there’s Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey (please pick up Walking With Giantsjust do it). There’s The Bad Plus (not psyched about their studio stuff, but live yeah, they were fun at Bonnaroo). And there’s the Benevento/Russo Duo featuring Mike Gordon (okay, I know they’re not really a band but how good is that shit?)
Then where does the Esbjorn Svensson Trio fit in?
Good question. I mean, they’re not as progressive or versatile as MMW, but that’s not fair, because nobody is. They’re not as freaktastic as JFJO, but that’s not fair either, because EST aren’t freaky. And they’re not as awesome as the duo, with or without Cactus (again, who is?).
So I guess we could place them somewhere near The Bad Plus, but not too close because EST are a lot more focused and controlled than the Baddies (and they don’t do "Iron Man").
But enough background, let’s talk about what these guys sound like. The Esbjorn Svensson Trio, featuring Dan Berglund on bass and Magnus Ostrom on drums, are a melancholy bunch of Swedes with a mostly traditional approach towards the piano trio.
And they’re good. Seven Days of Falling, out now on 215 Records, is their sixth proper record and it’s a cool listen. The 10 original tunes here are mostly mellow, and kind of sad, but some of them really cook. ‘Did They Ever Tell Cousteau?’ is a subtly funky little thing where Berglund gets really pretty on the upright, and states the melody with grace and aplomb; Svensson really gets down here, too, delivering one of his best improvisations on the record.
"Believe, Beleft, Below" is a great, quiet ballad where Svensson shines once again; his nimble Bill Evansisms skate smoothly atop Ostrom’s careful brushwork and Berglund’s invisible bass line.
The title track, too, really stands out; the tune is tense, sinister and a welcome break from the melancholia that envelops most of the record. Where most of the album is kind of sad, this track is kind of evil (and kind of Radiohead Thom would like this one).
If you’re down for a little piano trio love, and you don’t mind shedding those lonely teardrops, pick up Seven Days of Falling. You’ll dig it.