Changing Places

Tord Gustavsen Trio

Introducing a new piano trio from Norway. Tord Gustavsen’s young group, already making waves in the Far North – where “Changing Places” has soared into the pop charts – is telling new stories within the framework of the jazz tradition. This is music that sings, at once gentle and robust. The songs Gustavsen writes sound like standards-in-the-making: lyrical, immediately memorable songs, songs of an appealing freshness, yet sophisticated in their involvement with the melodic line. And the trio improvises, with flair and originality, inside their structures.

Featured Artists Recorded

December 2001-June 2002, Rainbow Studio, Oslo

Original Release Date


  • 1Deep as Love
    (Tord Gustavsen)
  • 2Graceful Touch
    (Tord Gustavsen)
  • 3IGN
    (Tord Gustavsen)
  • 4Melted Matter
    (Tord Gustavsen)
  • 5At a Glance
    (Tord Gustavsen)
  • 6Song of Yearning
    (Tord Gustavsen)
  • 7Turning Point
    (Tord Gustavsen)
  • 8Interlude
    (Tord Gustavsen)
  • 9Where Breathing Starts
    (Tord Gustavsen)
  • 10Going Places
    (Tord Gustavsen)
  • 11Your Eyes
    (Tord Gustavsen)
  • 12Graceful Touch, Variation
    (Tord Gustavsen)
  • 13Song of Yearning (solo)
    (Tord Gustavsen)
Jazz Review, Editor’s Choice
Gustavsen is a master of pianistic control and restraint, and he is at least matched by bassist Harald Johnsen, whose double bass indeed "walks", but with the intricate complexity of a daddy-long-legs; and by drummer Jarle Vespestad, whose subtle resectionings of time are, as often as not, played with his bare hands. Both have extensive backgrounds in avant-garde jazz, rock, and other experimental musics, but you’d never know that from their playing here. All three play like virtuosos who have not the slightest interest in showcasing their chops. There are one or two solos, but good as these are, they’re the least interesting parts of the album. This is the least grandstanding great jazz album I have heard since Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue.The sound is ECM’s usual feast of tonal richness and round-toned intimacy, with miking and mixing that place the listener less inside the band than inside their hearts. But this music would sound great on a scratchy 78. … With his first record as a leader, Tord Gustavsen has created an instant classic.
Richard Lehnert, Stereophile
Changing Places is an unusual achievement … Technical display is at a premium, and the compositions, all by the leader, are beguiling simple and intensely melodic. Gustavsen avoids flourishes of emotion, and while it’s brave to begin an album at the funereal pace of "Deep As Love", it’s braver still to continue that way. But this is a tempo which allows real improvisation, as Lee Konitz would put it. "At A Glance" is unusual here in following the customary arch pattern of increased intensity dying away at the end; "IGN" is mid-uptempo, but all other tracks are slow or slow-medium. "Turning Point" in particular is hauntingly beautiful. Bassist Harald Johnsen and drummer Jarle Vespestad, who’s worked with Norwegian electro-improv band Supersilent and with Farmer’s Market, also help to keep things simple – Vespestad in particular is astonishingly restrained. Changing Places is a distinctive achievement and marks the emergence of a potentially major talent.
Andy Hamilton, Jazz Review
Manche seiner Stücke hätten auch französische Chansons oder raffinierte Blues-Balladen werden können – wenn sie Texte hätten. So einprägsam ist Jazz sonst so gut wie nie, noch dazu in dieser Besetzung. Die puristischste aller Kombinationen hat der Norweger Tord Gustavsen gewählt – Klavier, Bass und Schlagzeug – und damit jetzt eine CD vorgelegt, die beste Chancen hat, ein Hit weit übers Fachpublikum hinaus zu werden. Jazz-kammermusikalischer Ohrenbalsam höchster Güte sind Gustavsens elf Eigenkompositionen auf dieser Platte. … Sie verbinden melodische Unmittelbarkeit mit einer fast soghaften atmosphärischen Kraft. Aber im eng verzahnten Trio-Zusammenspiel von Gustavsen mit dem Bassisten Harald Johnsen und dem Schlagzeuger Jarle Vespestad gehen die Stücke auch feine improvisatorische Verästelungen ein: Die Schönheit ist nicht nur hehr und sanft, sondern – bei allem Leisen, zu dem diese Musiker fähig sind – auch voller Intensität.
Roland Spiegel, Abendzeitung
Tord Gustavsen liebt die Melodien. Ihnen wendet er sich zu, als müsse er sie auf seinem Klavier nicht spielen, sondern singen … Diese Musik ist sparsam und unspektakulär bis zum Äußersten, sie verweigert sich dem Gemälde, und widmet sich der Strichzeichnung, sie ist extrem kammermusikalisch … Keine Melodie kommt so konventionell daher, dass sie nicht irgendwann doch noch ins Schräge, ja Gespensterhafte abgleiten würde. Die Spannung beziehen die Kompositionen von Tord Gustavsen aus der Kunst der minimalen Abweichung, mit der sie zu sanften, seltsam irrealen Kreaturen werden, beglückend und unheimlich zugleich.
Thomas Steinfeld, Süddeutsche Zeitung
Changing Places is a beauty … but soaked in a hushed, delicate romanticism that’s hard to resist. Most of the record is pitched at a whisper, with the spaces between the notes easily as significant as the notes themselves. Drummer Jarle Vespestad is felt rather than heard much of the time, while bassist Harald Johnsen provides gentle, intelligent support and lovely, guitar-like solos. The leader’s improvisations are yearning, tender meditations, occasionally coloured with the palest of the Blues, and the compositions (all Gustavsen originals) have the quiet, sometimes folky ecstacies of Pat Metheny’s or Keith Jarrett’s ballads, with a quiet insistence that’ll have you humming them for days to come. … A truly beautiful record that (if there’s any justice) will find a place as one of ECM’s finest releases of the last few years, and probably a place in your heart too. Gorgeous.
Peter Marsh, BBC Online
Jazz debut of the year so far, no messing.
The Independent On Sunday
The magic of music has rarely been in better hands than on this beautiful debut album by the trio of pianist Tord Gustavsen. He has been an important part of the Norwegian jazz scene and here the spotlight is not only on Gustavsen’s piano playing but also his compositions, an amalgam of Nordic beauty and quiet lyricism. This is music from the heart, softly spoken in its conception with a delicate sophistication all its own. But it’s the seamless, melodic interplay of the trio that catches the ear. … This is Norwegian jazz soulful, yet cool, brooding and almost pensive. The music flows with subtle finesse as suggested by the titles of compositions such ad "Deep As Love" and "Song of Yearning".
Kevin Jones, The Australian