EST Trio ‘301’ (ACT) 4/5

Here is an unexpected treat for fans of the superlative trio formation from Sweden that transformed the way we view the classic piano trio sound and attracted an audience way beyond the confines of jazz untile the untimely death of its leader, Esbjorn Svensson. This release is in fact only part of music that was recorded in studio 301 in Sydney, hence the title, during an Australian tour by EST. It is certainly no left over session and compares favourably with the very best of the trio’s output. Some of the raw energy that was present on other albums is still there, but the overriding ambience here is one of reflection with an immediate intimacy created as on the opener ‘Behind the stars’. Three lengthy compositions weight in at over ten minutes and include the most conventional sounding piece ‘The left lane’ where each member of the trio has the opportunity to stretch out over the repetitive, yet seductive rhythm. One of the key album numbers is ‘Inner city, city lights’, a brooding piece with beautiful playing from bassist Dan Berglund, and which incorporates some truly atmospheric electronic programming from Svensson. Most experimental, but all too brief, is ‘Houston, the fifth’ while for minimalist vision the second part of ‘Three falling free’ features what amounts to a virtual bass-piano duet on ‘The childhood dream’ with delicate drum rolls nonetheless emerging from the background. A strong release, then, and we look forward to possibly more of this material being issued.

Tim Stenhouse