Two recent reviews of "Being There" present a paradox. While one marvels at how avant-garde jazz can reach number 1 in Norway, the other observes the temptation to describe Tord Gustavsen's music as a cooled-down pastiche. Definitely not avant-garde and no mere pastiche, the Tord Gustavsen trio are simply creators of some of the finest, most beautiful and moving music around, irrespective of genre or style. The real paradox is how they make it sound so easy and how, given the number of piano trios in existence, their music is so recognisable.
Like its predecessors, "Being There" 's beauty defies description but suffice it so say that the music's hymn like purity and crystal clear intensity of feeling are rarely matched. Some of the more restrained tracks are unmistakably Tord Gustavsen (on Saturday, 3 bars were enough to identify the music being played in a shop I visited).
Elsewhere, however, the music is more kinetic than before, most noticeably "Blessed Feet" which pays a debt to the Esbjorn Svensson Trio while the insistent arpeggios of "Sani" calls to mind Jarrett in his solo prime.
It is difficult to identify highlights but "Around You" is a candidate with its beautiful, fuller sound. This is arguably the best example of Jarle Vespstad's fantastic percussion which contributes fully to the broader sound without resorting to mere volume or pyrotechnics. Not to be outdone, bassist Harald Johnsen is in nimble, melodic and sympathetic form throughout, underpinning Gustavsen and Johnsen.
Not for the first time in their career, and hopefully not for the last, Tord Gustavsen and his trio have produced a candidate for album of the year. In a parallel UK they could make Number 1. They deserve it but do we deserve them?