Rainbow Studio, Oslo, Norway – 2003 – ECM

Tord Gustavsen is a Norwegian pianist, born in Oslo in 1970 and brought up in the rural area outside the capital. He grew up playing church music. Playing piano at four, he was composing and improvising before he could read music. After achieving a degree in psychology, he studied jazz piano at the Conservatorium in Trondheim and then musicology in Oslo, before becoming an adjunct professor at the University of Oslo. His main field of interest is ‘the psychology and phenomenology of improvisation’, drawing ‘… on the psychology of relationships developed by German psychoanalytic Helm Stierlin and Norwegian psychologist Anne-Lise Løvlie Schibbye’. His thesis was titled The Dialectical Eroticism of Improvisation.

Changing Places was his first album with ECM, and the first of a trilogy including Ground (2005) and Being There (2007). Gustavsen on piano was accompanied by Harald Johnsen on double bass and Jarle Vespested on drums. The albums contained ‘rapt, pristine, meditative music, which resonated with the inner needs of a large, discriminating audience’. Changing Places demonstrates meticulously constructed melodies and rhythms, with hints of Bill Evans’ style. Tord Gustavsen is a gifted melody maker showing a series of deftly executed choruses and sublime themes.

For Leita, what takes her breath away is how sensitive, deep and soulful this music is. Gustavsen’s interest in psychology and music have produced an unusual product, and Changing Places is the intersection and union of both interests. It’s soft and dreamy, unavoidably sensual, personal, intense, elegantly dramatic and contemplative. He’s expressed something that can take your breath away. Just sit in a beautifully weathered, earth coloured leather chair, warm and comfortable against the elements, with a round balloon of fragrant cognac cupped in your hand. Set one reading light to illuminate you, and give yourself time to listen to a few tracks

Nominated by Leita Hutchings
Urban Jazz Lounge – Saturdays at noon