Tord Gustavsen

Tord Gustavsen Trio – Photo: Caterina di Perri

Tord Gustavsen is certainly Norway’s most outstanding jazz pianist. With his new trio, he will release his new album titled “Opening” on April fourth.

Tord Gustavsen’s album Opening further develops the characteristics and styles that the Norwegian pianist has explored in his earlier works, while bringing a newfound elasticity to the trio’s interplay. This is the Tord Gustavsen Trio’s first recording with Steinar Raknes on bass; the new addition fits seamlessly between Tord’s refined chordal studies and Jarle Vespestad’s delicate percussion.

The music is characterized by a particularly striking openness, marked by generous improvisations and a tendency to reveal secrets and melodies at their own pace. “The urge to say something, whether abstract or lyrical, has to come from within,” Tord explains. “During the recording of the album, it felt better to breathe first, to let the soundscapes unfurl in a more organic way, and to allow melodies to come when they want to on their own.”

There may be several reasons for the change in expression on Opening – the lineup change is certainly one of them. Bassist Steinar Raknes provides a steadfast counterpoint to the music. “He’s an outgoing bass player who can be the center of attention on one hand, but also an incredibly supportive and humble accompanist, so he’s very nimble switching between background, collective and soloist roles.” An ideal counterbalance to the oscillating bass lines, Jarle’s percussive meditation acts as a mediating medium, guiding his fellow musicians through alternating linear paced sequences and rubato passages.

On this recording, Tord dwells more than ever on microscopic fragments, short chains of chords, and sparse hints of motifs, patiently developing the material, “I’ve been doing that a lot in solo concerts lately. Just letting themes emerge out of the darkness, before they almost unnoticeably submerge again into the shadowy undercurrent…”


Tord Gustavsen (p, electronics)
Steinar Raknes (b, electronics)
Jarle Vespestad (dr)

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Tord Gustavsen featuring Simin Tander

Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen and his longtime companion Jarle Vespestad on drums meet German-Afghan artist Simin Tander. The Cologne-based singer turned down a pop record deal because it meant too much commerce and too little soul, studied jazz singing instead, and is now rightly considered a rising star in the European jazz and world music sky.

The desire to collaborate arose at their first meeting in 2014, and thanks to mutually shared enthusiasm and appreciation, this formation quickly evolved into a new trio project alongside Gustavsen’s quartet. Here, for the first time, the sensitive pianist leaves his comfort zone and expands it with subtle samples and live synths to partly deeply electronic soundscapes, nevertheless with the acoustic piano in the center. Add to this the warm lively voice of the gifted jazz vocalist, which gives this playing a new physical quality.

In collaboration with the Afghan poet B. Hamsaaya, the two translated and interpreted the texts of some traditional Norwegian hymns and folk songs in Pashto, the language of the Afghans, the language of Simin Tander’s father. Through the joint process of translation and interpretation, the intensive examination of their own identity and origins, of different cultures and religions, a very special canon of lyrics and music with high spirituality was created, without ever hiding the underlying roots.

In close musical dialogue with the old Norwegian hymns, the trio also offers new compositions from Gustavsen’s pen, Sufi poetry translated into English, as well as purely instrumental pieces. The new material bears witness to Gustavsen’s and Tander’s shared passion for a fundamental interplay between tradition and origin and the freedom that evolves from it – in music and cultural identity.

Line Up

Tord Gustavsen (p)
Jarle Vespesat (dr)
Simin Tander (voc)

On Tour

23 Apr


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Tord Gustavsen Trio – Stream