Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen views “Being There” as the third instalment of a trilogy that began with “Changing Places” (recorded 2001 and 2002) and continued with “The Ground” (recorded 2004).
On “Being There” the music’s priorities are maintained. The album’s title is borrowed from a tune on “The Ground”, intentionally stressing the continuity of the music, and also underlining its working concept, characterized by Gustavsen as “being acutely present, aware and focused in the fullness of the moment. The group has a definite direction or sound, but there are still many nuances to explore.” Gustavsen’s clearly-delineated melodies define a large part of the group’s sonic identity, but so does the manner in which the trio approaches them.
Technical flamboyance has almost no role to play in Gustavsen’s sound-world: restraint is one of the music’s hallmarks. “On the one hand”, he notes, “this is a matter of discipline, but it’s a discipline inspired by a love of spaces, not by some anorectic minimalist ideology. It’s about ‘loving every note’ – to phrase it as a slogan – or about trying to play what you’d actually like to hear rather than what you think you ought to play.”
This ‘holding back’ allows room for other musical developments to flower naturally, one of which has been the drifting of Jarle Vespestad’s drums towards the centre of the sound: the drums are, as Gustavsen says, a crucial component of the music. If this has been a tendency of performances in the live setting almost from the beginning, it is especially evident on “Being There”.
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