# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Miscellaneous - July 2008

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 20 / 6 / 2008

Miscellaneous - July 2008


In his regular 'Condemned to Rock 'n' Roll' column, Ben Howarth pays tribute to Swedish jazz pianist Esbjorn Svensson who died in a diving accident in June

I, like many of his fans across the globe, was shocked to learn that Swedish pianist Esbjorn Svensson died in a diving accident in June, leaving behind a wife and young family. I wouldn’t describe myself as much of a jazz fan. I certainly have never felt qualified to write about it. Sure, I own 'Kind of Blue', and - now that I look a bit closer - 'Sketches of Spain' and 'Bitches Brew'. I also have albums by Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong and Bill Evans. Generally, I think I admire jazz much more than I love it. I think there are only two ‘classic’ jazz albums I would grab if my house was on fire - Oscar Peterson’s ‘Night Train’ and Nina Simone’s ‘Nina Simone and Piano’. I don’t think that it is a co-incidence that these are both piano albums, and that they have melodic songwriting. But I am always looking for music that will help me relax, or music that will help me get on with work without distracting me too much, which means that I have spent quite a lot of time listening to Radio 3’s Jazz programmes in the past year - often without realising who is playing, and not caring all that much. But during that time, one band that Radio 3 seem to have a particular amount of time for has stood out. The Esbjorn Svensson Trio, known as e.s.t. have come to define the ten years during which the largely classical station had devoted a few hours a week to jazz, and from their debut album, ‘From Gagarin’s Point Of View’ onwards, have come to define a style of jazz playing, that in the word’s of presenter Jez Nelson has "shown great respect for jazz’s past, but had also shown a vision of its future." Indeed, e.s.t. had produced a live show that more closely resembled a rock concert than any other jazz act, and even a cursory listen to their music would make a Radiohead fan realise that many of the ideas on ‘In Rainbows’ were not solely the product of the Oxford quintet’s own imagination! But, essentially, this was a jazz trio - albeit one with pop, electronica and folk influences - and I am not really able to explain why I like them in the same way that I would enthuse about, say, the Drive By Truckers. Thus, until now, I haven’t written a single word about e.s.t. for this website. But I listen to their music obsessively, perhaps because it is so joyous that it needs not be analysed at all. It is too late to alert you to one of the finest musical talents of the past decade in time for you to see them perform. Indeed, I never had the chance myself. But I hope that some people reading this will choose to investigate his remarkable legacy, beginning with the truly outstanding album, ‘Live In Hamburg’, released last year. Esbjorn Svensson 1964-2008 RIP.

Also In Condemned to Rock 'n' Roll

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