E.S.T. Symphony - e.s.t. Esbjörn Svensson Trio
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Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Hans Ek / conductor & arranger
Marius Neset / saxophone
Verneri Pohjola / trumpet
Johan Lindström / pedal steel
Iiro Rantala / piano
Dan Berglund / bass
Magnus Öström / drums With their all-embracing vision of jazz, Esbjörn Svensson Trio (pianist Esbjörn Svensson, bassist Dan Berglund and drummer Magnus Oström) was without doubt one of the most widely admired and influential European instrumental ensembles in the first decade of the new millennium. e.s.t., as they came to be known, rode the crest of a wave with their combination of highly singable themes, mesmerizingly chilled grooves and visually stimulating, high energy ‘live’ performances. They filled large rock stadium venues and reached out to non-jazz audiences in a way that has not been equaled previously in the history of homegrown European jazz. e.s.t. regularly topped pop as well as jazz album sales charts and became the first band from Europe to make the front cover of the illustrious US jazz journal Downbeat.
All the more tragic then, that on reaching even greater heights of creativity and new audiences into the latter half of the noughties, e.s.t. were cut off in their prime in 2008 when the trio’s pianist, composer and talismanic leader Esbjörn Svensson died suddenly in a scuba diving accident. Tributes poured in as the contemporary jazz world mourned the loss of a truly illuminating figure, especially for a younger generation of musicians. Eight years on and it’s perhaps an appropriate time to not only celebrate but begin to reevaluate the rich recording legacy left by the band.
The striking new release E.S.T. SYMPHONY on the trio’s former recording label ACT does just that. It benefits from the skillful hand and colourfully expressive musicality of the esteemed, musically eclectic Swedish arranger-conductor Hans Ek. He has arranged an outstanding selection of Esbjörn’s compositions from e.s.t.’s rich 13 album catalogue for a widescreen orchestral canvas. Performed exquisitely by the 90-piece Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Ek’s orchestrations integrate organically with solo contributions from a handful of Scandi-jazz superstars of today and tomorrow. Featured are the saxophonist Marius Neset, trumpeter Verneri Pohjola, pianist Iiro Rantala and the unique pedal steel guitarist Johan Lindström, a member of Tonbruket, a band led by the innovative ex-e.s.t. bassist Dan Berglund who’s clearly the lynchpin of this project alongside his ex-bandmate/drummer Magnus Öström.