Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen returns to a trio lineup with the sometimes swinging and hip, more often tiptoeingly gospelly ‘The Other Side’.
John Fordham, The Guardian
Like a dusty, Southern gothic novel, Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen opens his return to the trio format with the moody, enigmatic ‘The Tunnel.’ All his compositions on ‘The Other Side’ bare their secrets slowly and play out their methodically expressionistic hauntings with a gospel-influenced left hand seemingly rooted thousands of miles away in the muddy Louisiana delta. […] Gustavsen brings all he's learned in the interim years, playing with fiddlers and Iranian musicians, to his writing. ‘Re-Melt’ is powered by the pianist's melodic insistence and Vespestad's understated groove. The atmospheric rumination of ‘Taste and See,’ ‘Leftover Lullaby No. 4,’ and the closing ‘Curves’ are simply beautiful, lyrical statements, taken at a pace that almost belies time.
Mike Jurkovic, All About Jazz
Hymns, chants religieux des pays scandinaves, vieilles chansons populaires de Norvège sont depuis toujours les principals sources d’inspiration du pianist Tord Gustavsen don’t les albums aux melodies simples et dèpouillées sont étroitement associés à un parcours spirituel […] Sigurd Hole, convenant parfaitement au ralenti onirique de cette musique modale liturgique, possède un grand pouvoir de séduction mélodique. Le silence y trouve refuge dans les phrases courtes et ramassées du pianiste qui caresse ses notes, recherche l’ épure, ornemente a minima et va à l’essentiel.
Pierre de Chocqueuse, Jazz Magazine
‚The Other Side‘ represents Gustavsen’s first piano-trio disc as a leader in 10 years. The playing is spare and highly sensual, the approach being derived from the blues and gospel traditions so that, as Gustavsen himself has noted in the past, the tunes have the character of ‘worldless hymns’: indeed, along with the originals here, are settings of Bach chorales. The results are deeply romantic and sweetly hypnotic.
Robert Shore, Jazzwise
Magische Momente entstehen so, getragen von folkloreähnlichen Melodien, die bis auf eine Ausnahme keine Volksmusik aufarbeiten, sondern Gustavsens Vorstellungswelt entspringen.
Werner Stiefele, Audio
Ushering in autumn with grace is Norwegian pianist Gustavsen, whose talents shine on a mix of original compositions and arrangements of chorales including a groove-led take on Bach’s ‘Schlafes Bruder’. New double-bassist Sigurd Hole has a way with modal folk melodies. Longtime drummer Jarle Vespestad is a luminous presence; Gustavsen’s dancing pianism makes the melodic ‘Taste and See’ a highlight.
Jane Cornwell, Evening Standard
There are no extravagances but plenty of utterly beautiful moments that take you to another dimension. The record is soulful and inspired, and Gustavsen and his bandmates are all refined musical taste, originality, and perception.
Filipe Freitas, Jazz Trail
The trio’s ability to capture doubt, joy and anxiety with a few notes is breathtaking. And ‘The Other Side’ feels like a joyful hymn, as it glides through a seraphic melody, abruptly finishing on a minor chord. The last notes resonate, then fade gradually, almost imperceptibly.
Andrew Jones, Downbeat
Throughout this set, Gustavsen’s intensely lyrical piano playing draws the listener into the heart of each piece; not the melodic centre of the tune but the emotional core of the experience that the music conveys. Not a note is wasted, either from the piano or from Hole’s richly elegant bass playing. […] As with the earlier trio recordings (back in the early 2000s), Gustavsen’s arrangements cover a variety of musical sources. In this case, he has taken three chorales from Bach, a tune from Danish composer Danish Ludvig Lindeman and a traditional hymn and worked these into tunes that blend a jazz feel for swing with a folk ear for melody. Equally apparent in the trio’s playing is the way that Gustavsen has been working an approach to composition that is increasingly dependent on modal patterns, which gives the music a sense of breadth and helps emphasize the passion in even the quietest of moments. No wonder that he has previously used the phrase ‘Nordic blues’ to capture his approach and sensibility of the music. Like the blues, there is something in the pieces that has a stoic mournfulness but which ultimately gives a sense of joy. Absolutely marvellous.
Chris Baber, Jazz Views
Pianist Tord Gustavsen returns with a reflective trio album that in the first half focuses on his own fully matured composer talents, while in the second half, he adapts J.S. Bach original pieces for a jazz context, and in the process offers something different to the long tried and tested Jacques Loussier approach. Bach is that most jazz-friendly of early classical composers and as such ripe for re-evaluation. […] another quality recording from Tord Gustavsen in trio format, and arguably the one that best suits his natural musical inclinations.
Tim Stenhouse, UK Vibe
Tord Gustavsen’s fans will be delighted with this album, and those who discover him for the first time could not ask for a better introduction. ‘The Other Side’ is reminiscent of his formative albums ‘The Ground’ and ‘Being There’. But while his phrasing and style has been maintained some of the tango and flamenco themes that were evident in the music of his second and third albums has made way for themes that are more related to Nordic folk and religious hymns. […] ‘The Other Side’ is immense and is exceedingly highly recommended.
Reuben Klein, The Ear
Ein Dutzend Stücke, darunter Neuarrangements eines dänischen Kirchenliedes aus dem 19. Jahrhundert und dreier Bachchoräle, belegen, wie tragfähig und betörend Gustavsens Triomusik geblieben ist. Eingeflossen sind die Spielerfahrungen der zurückliegenden Jahre als Solist und mit erweiterten Bands. Vielleicht ist diesmal eine Spur mehr Dynamik zu hören, doch wie hier auch weiterhin ganz nah bei den Essenzen geblieben wird, ist schlicht und ergreifend wunderschön.
Ulrich Steinmetzger, Leipziger Volkszeitung
Tord Gustavsen’s subtle piano grooves continue to demonstrate his gently provocative approach, artfully juxtaposing elasticated treatments of Bach and a few traditional tunes with a selection of the pianist’s original tunes on ‘The Other Side’. The group makes all the music their own, but another notable attraction of this disc is actually the programming sequence: this feels unusually central to the overall package, so prod the shuffle button at your peril.
Roger Thomas, BBC Music Magazine
The new album retains what first drew so many people to Gustavsen: mesmerizing hush; sublimated urgency; spare melodic grace. It also reveals 11 years of creative evolution. […] In his sensitive, precise touch and his knowledge of how silence deepens melody, he has always been able to lay bare the most private emotions. When you listen to him, it is always a revelation to discover that those emotions have been felt by someone other than yourself.
Thomas Conrad, Stereophile
Another piano-led set but much more ethereal and meditative in character is The Other Side a fine collection of pastel-hued chamber jazz by Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen and his trio.
Charles Waring, Record Collector