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Esbjorn Svensson

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Biography of Esbjorn Svensson

E.S.T.

The Esbjörn Svensson Trio is a phenomenon: a jazz trio, which sees itself as a pop band that plays jazz, which broke with the tradition of leader and sidemen in favour of equality within its members, which not only plays jazz-venues but also venues usually reserved for rock bands, which uses light effects and fog-machines in their live shows, which gets a whole audience to sing-a-long with jazz-standards as eg. Thelonius Monk's "Bemsha Swing", is a trio that goes beyond the scope of the usual classic jazz trio.

In their home country Sweden, their music can be found in the pop-charts and their videos playing on MTV Scandinavia. With their unique soundscape, combining jazz with drum 'n' bass, electronic elements, funk rhythm, and pop and rock as well as European Classical music, e.s.t. won an audience spanning from the classic jazz-fans to the youngest HipHop fans.

Critics and audiences world-wide agree: e.s.t. is definitely one of the most innovative jazz bands of today. Openness, curiosity, and a little bit of chance are all a part of Esbjörn Svensson's artistic foundation:

"I play piano because we didn't have any other instrument in the house. Actually, I would have rather played drums. For instance, as a kid, I put together a set out of old odds and ends, and tried to sound like "Sweet" on "Ballroom Blitz". But then Magnus Öström came with his drums, and I decided to stay with the piano. Magnus and I grew up together, and have played together from the beginning. When Magnus was given his first drum set, he brought it over to my house, and we started playing. We had no idea how to play, but it was a lot of fun. Since we didn't have a teacher, and no one was telling us how to play, you know, 'you must do it this way or that way', we were able to gradually develop our music in a very unique, individualistic way."

Today Esbjörn Svensson reaches into the piano, and plucks the strings, searching for the sound of a guitar. He cautiously experiments with percussive accents, and dives into the depths of the orchestral-inspired forms. Attentive to the necessary considerations of musical balance, he integrates electronic elements into his musical vision, creating an optimal mixture of textures. He supplements his ideas with new harmonic ideas, surprising melodic variations, and catchy motifs. Because his music is the kind of art that doesn't rely on the safety of a particular style, it is all the more effective.

Esbjörn Svensson was born in 1964 in Västeras, Sweden. His mother played classical piano, his father loved Ellington, and Svensson listened to the latest pop hits on the radio. In high school, Esbjörn played in his first bands, along with taking piano lessons for three years. Four years of musical studies at Stockholm University followed, where Svensson developed the necessary technical craft to fully articulate his intuitive self-taught concepts. Thus, Svensson's carefree, youthful musical exuberance could mature into a creative self-awareness. Along with such Swedish players as Jan Johansson, Svensson counts Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett as major influences. Svensson is able to take their respective distinctive stylistic characteristics and meld them into his own musical vision. From the mid-eighties on, Svensson established himself as an inspiring sideman in the Swedish and Danish jazz scenes. He formed his own trio in 1990, but it wasn't until 1993 that he got the necessary lift to get a CD off the ground. It was in 1993 that he met Dan Berglund on a gig they were both working at.

Svensson was fascinated by the structural strength and creative diversity of his playing and was able to entice Berglund into joining the trio. The same year, the Esbjörn Svensson Trio recorded their debut album, "When Everyone Has Gone" (Dragon): in 1995, the live recording "Mr. & Mrs. Handkerchief", which was released on ACT in the year 2001 under the title e.s.t. Live '95 (ACT 9295-2).

By the mid nineties the trio had made a name for themselves in Sweden and got a recording-deal with the pop-oriented label Superstudio Gul / Diesel Music. The first album for this label, released the same year, was e.s.t. Plays Monk (ACT 9010-2), which quickly sold over 10.000 copies in Sweden. And the talented newcomer started to collect prizes: in 1995 and 1996 he was awarded Swedish jazz musician of the Year and 1998 Songwriter of the Year, and the 1997 release Winter in Venice (ACT 9007-2) - consisting mainly of original material - was awarded the Swedish Grammy. Playing with musicians as Alex Riel, Mads Vinding, Victoria Tolstoy (“White Russian”, Blue Note 1997), and above all, Nils Landgren, Svensson has become known throughout Europe; he played a decisive role in making the Nils Landgren Funk Unit concert at the 1998 Montreux Jazz Festival the highlight of the festival. The 1999 release of From Gagarin's Point of View (ACT 9005-2) proved to be a milestone in the career of e.s.t. Connecting with the German label ACT und live appearances at festivals such as JazzBaltica and Montreux marked the long due international break-through. A year later the CD Good Morning Susie Soho (ACT 9009-2) was released and earned the trio the title "Trio of the Year" by Jazzwise, UK. e.s.t. toured on the "RISING STARS" Jazz Circuit and played all major festivals throughout Europe. At the same time Sony Columbia USA released the first CD "Somewhere Else Before" in the USA. The latest album is Strange Place For Snow (ACT 9011-2) with which e.s.t. was on a 9-month world tour in 2002.

Downbeat announced the band as "One of the hottest jazz acts in Europe today". And their three weeks in the USA and Canada brought them to Jazz and avant garde venues in New York, Chicago, Washington, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles as well as to the big festivals in Boston, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

The French actress, screen writer (8 Women) and director Marina de Van chose the album as soundtrack for her movie ‘Dans ma Peau’. By the end of 2002 e.s.t. can not only look back on fantastic live-shows and sold out concert halls, but also received a number of awards as German Critics Award 2002, the "German Jazz Award", "Choc de l'année" (CD of the year, Jazzman, France). And already in January of 2003 e.s.t. also received the "Victoire du Jazz" - the French Grammy - as best international act and also the "Revelation of the Festival" award, a special award from Midem. e.s.t. Esbjörn Svensson Trio "One of the hottest jazz acts in Europe today" (Downbeat, USA) “The Trio of the Decade” (The TIMES London) From "Strange Place For Snow" to "Seven Days Of Falling" A Swedish Jazz Trio takes the world: March 2002 Release of Strange Place for Snow (ACT 9011-2) e.s.t. embark on a nine month world tour, playing more than 100 concerts in 18 countries April 2002 CD of the month, JazzZeit, Austria 5 Star review, Jazzthetik, Germany „Choc“ (CD of the month), Jazzman, France May 2002 CD of the month, Stereoplay, Germany 5 Star review, JazzZeitung, Germany # 4 WOM Jazzcharts, Germany’s biggest music retail chain (World of Music) June 2002 CD released in the USA and Canada a three week tour of the USA and Canada, with concerts in: New York, Chicago, Washington, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal … July 2002 shooting for a videoclip to support "Serenade of the Renegade", directed by French director Marina de Van covering nearly all the important European Jazz Festivals (Montreux, North Sea Jazz Festival, Istanbul, Perugia a.o.) October 2002 Guinness Jazz In Europe Award 2002 5 Star review, The Times, UK November 2002 German Jazz Award December 2002 Annual German Critics Award for 2002 Choc de l'année 2002 (CD of the year), Jazzman, France „Dans ma Peau“, the movie directed by Marina de Van, with Strange Place for Snow as its soundtrack starts at cinemas throughout France January 2003 Televised concert at "Victoires de la Musique 2003" at MIDEM in Cannes e.s.t. is awarded the French Grammy: Victoire du Jazz 2003 for „Best International Artist of the Year“ MIDEM 2003 Special Award for „Discovery of the year“ March 2003 World Tour 2003 starts, with concerts ahead in Europe, Japan, Canada, USA Release of Strange Place for Snow in Japan July 2003 e.s.t. will be the only international band to perform at the BBC Music Awards at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, where they will receive the award for “Best International Artist” August 2003 playing 16 concerts in the USA, supporting K.D. Lang September 2003 The new album Seven Days of Falling (ACT 9012-2) will be released September 22nd. October 2003 „Visions of Jazz“: Tour covering through Germany, Austria, and Switzerland from October 14th to November 3rd (organized by Karsten Jahnke concerts) to be continued...

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