A complete recording of previously unreleased material by the highly acclaimed Esbjorn Svensson Trio is the second release following the tragic passing of Esbjorn Svennson. Some critics went so far as to refer to this ensemble as one of the most exciting bands of the decade as there is no disputing their immeasurable contribution. The release of 301 consists of drummer Magnus Ostrom and bassist Dan Berglund. 301 is a natural outgrowth from the sessions recorded in studio 301 in Sydney Australia. While actually the second release since the tragic scuba diving accident claimed the life of Svensson, Leucocyte may well be the genesis for the subsequent genius that is 301.
The initial recording made in 2007 was to have taken shape as either a double disc or two consecutive releases. Leucocyte was released in 2008 with Berglund and Ostrom revisiting the material and with the help of the band's regular sound engineer Ake Linton they made their own edit for 301 based on the name of the studio where this incredible offering was first laid down. The chemistry of this band is something similar bands could work ten years to attempt to reach and still not be close to the cohesion found on 301. E.S.T works without a harmonic net and does so with the skill and precision of a highly trained surgeon and to a larger degree they are sonic surgeons that posses the unique ability to break down a tune to a basic state and then reinvent the number in a far more stable and inventive fashion. Effects are used but not as a sonic crutch but instead as a binding element to further emphasize the musical statements being made. There is nothing that borders the cheesy or self indulgent. 301 is contemporary post modern jazz with an attitude. Svensson's passing came at the most inopportune time as the band was just beginning to make a serious dent in the U.S. market. 301 marks the first full release of new original compositions by e.s.t and is without a doubt a high water mark for the band's discography.
"Behind The Stars" opens as an imaginative harmonic journey that hits both the visceral and cerebral parts of the human experience. "The Left Lane" displays the keen sense of melody along with a strong dynamic presentation often missing from most piano trios today. "The Childhood Dream" is an introspective and occasionally wistful ballad, a sonic exploratory and perhaps the perfect example of the true meat and potatoes of what has made e.s.t so respected.
The most unique aspect to e.s.t is that this jazz trio viewed itself as a pop band that plays jazz. Sound odd? It should not as this means their ego not to mention artistic self indulgence was checked at the door when they went into 301. The end result of 301 is one of the most innovative jazz ensembles of the 21st century. While 301 is certainly a sad reminder of the tragic passing of Esbjorn Svensson it can just as easily be viewed as the celebration of an artistic life truly lived.
An amazing recording. 5 Stars.
Tracks: Behind The Stars; Inner City, City Lights; The Left Lane; Houston, The 5th; Three Falling Free Part I; Three Falling Free Part II; The Childhood Dream.
Personnel: Esbjorn Svensson: piano, electronics, transistor radio; Dan Berglund; double bass, electronic; Magnus Ostrom: drums, voices, electronics.
Special thanks to DL Media.