E.S.T. Symphony


Eight years after the scuba-diving accident that killed Swedish pianist Esbjörn Svensson and stopped Europe’s most successful jazz group in its tracks, this ambitious project, masterminded by arranger-conductor Hans Ek with the participation of E.S.T. bassist Dan Berglund and drummer Magnus Öström, sets some of the band’s best-known tunes within orchestral settings with some solo spotlights.

It’s a carefully, beautifully produced suite of tunes which fully preserves their strong melodic content while dramatically expanding their presentation.

They stay true to Svensson’s original intentions and one suspects he would have approved (one of the arrangements, Dodge The Dodo, is his). Some of the arrangements use Svensson’s improvisations as a basis. Whether they will appeal so fully to ardent E.S.T. fans depends very much on whether they sound suitably enlarged or simply overblown – which is down to the ears and sensibilities of the listener.

Whatever one’s view, there is sterling work from trumpeter Verneri Pohjola and pianist Iro Rantala – and from Öström and Berglund of course (though I retain here the opinion I had of the original trio performances: I can’t get enough of Öström’s grooves; I can often have too much of Berglund’s solos). But the real star turns on E.S.T. Symphony come from the impeccable structural sense of Marius Neset.

The cinematic From Gagarin’s Point Of View and the grand finale, Behind The Yashmak, are the stand-out tracks for me.

Categories: CD review

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