Esbjörn Svensson: When Everyone Has Gone
(Esbjörn Svensson, Magnus Öström, Dan Berglund)
A good few people have emailed/texted me about this, so I guess I'd better say something. Have a listen while you read.
To those of us in the 'jazz community' the demise of Esbjörn Svensson and thus e.s.t (Esbjörn Svensson Trio) comes as a genuinely heartbreaking blow. As Greil Marcus has quoted from Dave Marsh on the death of Elvis:
It's just that he's always been there. I expected him to be a part of culture that I'd share with my children.
Esbjörn has been there for 20 years. Each new album was eagerly awaited and dissected by critics and fans alike. Their use of Cage's prepared piano, multiple digital and analog effects on all instruments, and occasional manic doubling of voices created a music of dense layers and varied textures, while somehow remaining sparsely Scandinavian–a sort of jazz Radiohead if you will.
Although e.s.t are probably the most successful breakout jazz outfit in living history, and their albums regularly entered pop charts both in Europe and the U.S., they still remain relatively unknown to the general public–it is jazz after all.
The albums 'Strange Place for Snow' and 'Seven Days of Falling' are probably good starting points for the curious listener. If you'd like to delve deeper into the jazz piano trio, their tribute to a jazz great 'e.s.t. Plays Monk' is also highly entertaining AND educational.
On a personal note, like Organdonor and others in e.s.t.'s extensive (for jazz) Irish fanbase, I had seen the trio play several times, and each became a very special event. An invariably rapt audience was held spellbound by the intensity, and delighted by the marvelous spirit of invention.
I will certainly miss announcements of new e.s.t albums, as well as the comforting feeling that whatever the time of day or night, at least someone, somewhere was making truly sublime music.
Jazz pianist, composer and all round nice guy Esbjörn Svensson (44) died in a scuba-diving accident last Saturday. He leaves behind his wife and two children.
Telegraph obit for e.s.
Interview with e.s. from March last year.