The Other Side

Tord Gustavsen Trio

“This is the chill-out as a state of grace, and it can go as deep as you like. Sublime,” wrote the Independent on Sunday of the Gustavsen’s trio’s Being There, released in 2007. Over the last decade Tord has explored other ensemble forms and formats, but on The Other Side – recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in January 2018 – he opens a new chapter in his piano trio story, with faithful drummer Jarle Vespestad, and excellent new bassist Sigurd Hole. Hole’s approach to his instrument, drawing on folk influences as well as modern jazz, is ideally suited to Gustavsen’s slowly-developing, deeply melodic pieces. The album, produced by Manfred Eicher, is issued on the eve of a major tour.
„Entspannung als ein graziöser Zustand, der unendlich tief berühren kann – großartig”, schrieb der Independent on Sunday über Tord Gustavsens Being There, erschienen 2007. In den darauf folgenden zehn Jahren hat Tord andere Gruppierungen und Formate erkundet. Mit The Other Side – aufgenommen in den Rainbow Studios in Oslo im Januar 2018 – schreibt er nun ein neues Kapitel in seiner Klaviertrio Geschichte. Mit dabei: Schlagzeuger Jarle Vespestad und Bassist Sigurd Hole. Holes Spielweise – beeinflusst sowohl von Folk als auch von modernem Jazz – passt perfekt zu Gustavsens sich entwickelnden, melodischen Stücken. Produziert von Manfred Eicher, wird das Album am Vorabend einer großen Tour veröffentlicht.  
Featured Artists Recorded

January 2018, Rainbow Studio, Oslo

Original Release Date


  • 1The Tunnel
    (Tord Gustavsen)
  • 2Kirken, den er et gammelt hus
    (Ludvig Mathias Lindeman)
  • 3Re-Melt
    (Tord Gustavsen)
  • 4Duality
    (Tord Gustavsen)
  • 5Ingen vinner frem til den evige ro
  • 6Taste And See
    (Tord Gustavsen)
  • 7Schlafes Bruder
    (Johann Sebastian Bach)
  • 8Jesu, meine Freude / Jesus, det eneste
    (Johann Sebastian Bach, Traditional)
  • 9The Other Side
    (Tord Gustavsen)
  • 10O Traurigkeit
    (Johann Sebastian Bach)
  • 11Left Over Lullaby No.4
    (Tord Gustavsen)
  • 12Curves
    (Tord Gustavsen)
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
Pianist Tord Gustavsen began his ECM tenure with three trio albums, released from 2003 to 2007, that enjoyed a remarkable confluence of popular and critical success. JazzTimes described this trilogy as having the potency of “distilled magic,” while the Guardian stated “Gustavsen’s tunes are hypnotically strong, and the integration of bass and drums in his regular trio is total.“ In four further recordings for ECM over the past decade, Gustavsen explored the quartet format, as well as worked with an expanded ensemble and vocals. Now, for his return to trio with the album The Other Side, the Norwegian pianist has convened a new working group, which includes ever-faithful drummer Jarle Vespestad – a kindred spirit who has drummed on all of Gustavsen’s albums. There is a new bassist, Sigurd Hole, whose eclectic approach to his instrument – drawing on influences from folk music as well as modern jazz – makes him ideally suited to the pianist’s gradually developing, melodic pieces. The Other Side incorporates Gustavsen’s love for the church music of his village youth and the ancient folk melodies of Norway that have become a passion in more recent years. This mix of compositions and arrangements of chorales ranges from grave beauty to flowing dynamism, marked throughout by the trio’s seemingly telepathic chemistry.
 Along with being 11 years since Gustavsen’s previous trio album, it has been seven years since the tragic early passing of the group’s original bassist, Harald Johnsen. “I didn’t want to just continue the trio with another bassist,” Gustavsen explains. “Then the quartet I had with Jarle, saxophonist Tore Brunborg and bassist Mats Eilertsen felt so strong that it demanded its own cycles of recording and touring. After that, we did like to explore new songs with electronics and vocals. But following all this, it seemed like the time to bring the piano back as the lead voice. This new version of the trio feels in line with the initial group, even as it exists on another wavelength – it would have to, as it somehow includes all that came in between those first records and now. And, the trio represents Tord’s passion for paradoxically uniting clarity and freedom.
 The title of The Other Side reflects multiple ideas, it also refers to the trio as being another side of Gustavsen’s music-making from the quartet and vocal explorations of recent years, not to mention his frequent side ventures with choirs, fiddle players and even Iranian musicians. “Then there is also this idea in the title of the way the trio plays as being the other side of virtuosity, a kind of paradoxical virtuosity where you don’t play all the notes you can but merely the notes that are really needed,” he says. “It’s about subordinating your ego to the flow of the music – and that takes a kind of ‘radical listening’ – listen more than you play. That’s a passion the three of us share.”
Gustavsen arranged several chorales by Bach for the album, as well as one by 19th-century Danish composer, organist and folklorist Ludvig Mathias Lindeman. Bach’s “Schlafes Bruder” has deep groove led by Vespestad, while Lindeman’s “Kirken, den er et gammelt hus” has a feel that’s alternatively ruminative and rhapsodic, with an electronically shaded intro. “We’re interpreting the church music that I grew up with in an abstract way,” the pianist explains.
Gustavsen composed the grooving “Re-Melt” and haunting “Leftover Lullaby No. 4” as divergent responses to the chorale arrangements. He originally wrote the gospel-tinged “Tunnel” and melodic highlight “Taste and See” for a literary festival in the mountains of northwest Norway, where the pieces were played in conjunction with readings; they evolved further as vehicles for the trio. The stately, blue-hued title track and ravishing “Curves” are original pieces that Gustavsen composed at soundchecks on quartet tours, inspired by how the other group members were responding musically to his ideas; the seeds of the quietly atmospheric “Duality” were also sown in that way, but the track ended up as a mostly free improvisation in the studio.
 Always subtle and lyrical, Gustavsen’s pianism has evolved in recent years to incorporate more modal playing, moving beyond chord changes; through his quartet work and his early experiences as a solo performer, his blending of composition and improvisation has also become freer, more seamless. Both of his trio mates have sensual sounds that complement his own. Sigurd Hole has a lyrical bent on bass, although his arco playing can be expressively percussive. “Sigurd also has a natural way of injecting modal Norwegian folk melodies into the music that makes the group’s connection to these roots stronger,” Gustavsen points out. “The old Norwegian lullabies and dance forms find their way in now almost without us thinking about it.”
Gustavsen and Vespestad, musical soul mates, have played hundreds of concerts together. “Early on, in our playing of ballads, we discovered this sense of micro-timing, and loaded minimalism – the feeling that the less we play, the stronger it gets – and this sense has  evolved ever since. Now, we are also stretching out and using more dynamics, but this fundamental experience of ‘essence’ and reduction is always our point of departure. Jarle can groove in such an understated way and play so quietly that all the timbres of the piano can be heard. That said, he has such technical ability. It’s fascinating that beyond his groups with me, he often plays complex music with fierce tempos and a lot of volume and noise. A funny thing is that he’s so attuned to the lyricism in the trio’s music that I can often hear him humming the melody as he plays. That’s rare for a drummer and something that, as a composer, I find touching.”
“I like to analyse and break things down in music, of course, but first and foremost, it’s about touching people in the way that I like to be touched in music,” Gustavsen concludes. “That’s the most meaningful part of all this for me, being moved and moving others.”
The Other Side was recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in January 2018 with Manfred Eicher producing.
2024 April 25 Show Of Hands Festival Istanbul, Turkey
2024 May 10 Anjazz Hamar, Norway
2024 May 23 deSingel Antwerp, Belgium
2024 May 24 Handelsbeurs Concertzaal Gent, Belgium
2024 September 20 Paradox Tilburg, Netherlands
2024 September 21 Bimhuis Amsterdam, Netherlands