Monday, 16 June 2008

A Sad Day For Jazz Lovers

It's been one of those days where nothing much happens, when everything gets swallowed up with chores and work and flagellating yourself on a treadmill just to lose a few stone here and there. Oh, and I've said it before, and I'll say it again, working out is never a good idea while watching someone as odious as George W. Bush talks about world events like a kid who hasn't done his homework, and then being pressured by teachers to explain what he knows about a subject and relying on repetition of a single word over and over again as if that gets him off the hook. His brand of idiotic belligerence and barely concealed hysteria made me do three kilometers more than I expected, and I spent the rest of the day in an exhausted and miserable fugue state.

Anyway, the one thing that did happen today was not welcome at all. One of the music world's most innovative composers, Swedish jazz pianist Esbjörn Svensson, died today in a tragic diving accident, at the age of 44. I was recently introduced to his music by a colleague, and was beginning to grow enormously fond of his work, which was jazz if played by very aggressive avant-garde hipsters. That sounds like I'm making fun of his work, but I'm definitely not. The album I've spent the most time with, EST plays Monk, is exhilarating stuff, using not only Svensson's piano to adapt Thelonious Monk's uniquely percussive keyboards, but also attacking Monk's work with the double bass and drums of Esbjörn Svensson Trio cohorts Dan Berglund and Magnus Öström. It's a strange way to rework those classic Monk tunes, but it works beautifully.

I'm sad I've only just learned of his talent, just as he has passed on, but for now I can enjoy what he has left us. Here is a Last FM page with some Esbjörn Svensson Trio tunes, and here is a live performance of Dodge The Dodo from the album From Gagarin's Point of View.

My condolences to his family, friends, and fellow musicians.

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