Concert Review – Tord Gustavsen Trio

Tord Gustavsen Trio – Lichfield Garrick Theatre – 16th July 2005

The final performance of the 2005 Lichfield Festival at the Garrick was a fitting way to close the 10 days of performances.

The Norwegian Chamber Jazz trio, led by pianist and composer Tord Gustavsen played new material, as well as music from their two critically acclaimed albums. The audience was attentive throughout, and the concert seemed to inhabit the land where classical music and jazz overlapped.

The gig started, with a slow, meditative piece, that segued into the more upbeat chordal vamp of “Touching on Grace”.  The pieces shifted moods, and started off slowly, and meditatively, with much of the minimalism found with such label mates as Jan Garbarek. The softly stated theme of ‘Sentiment’ gave way to the fiercely performed ‘Twins’.

The more up pieces showed the influence of such piano players as Dave Brubeck, Herbie Hancock, and in some of the slower movements, Bill Evans, who piano playing added much to the recordings and live shows of Miles Davies.

Tord Gustavsen was more than ably assisted by double bass player Harold Johnsen, and drummer Jarle Vespestad. Their contributions helped to colour much of the music, with the bass reinforcing many of the melodic motifs. At the same time, the drums added vibrancy with cymbal splashes, and during a quieter moment at the end of one piece, cymbal and drumstick bought forth banshee wails, adding a Theremin type tonality to the music.

The second half of the concert bought performances from their best selling album, ‘The Ground’ with performances of the ballad ‘Colour of Mercy’ and ‘Reach Out and Touch it’ which featured melodic interchanges between piano and double bass. The trio encored with ‘Starting to breathe’. The music was mostly accessible, with tuneful melodies, and enough technique on display to please even the most hardened jazz fan.


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