RIP Esbjörn Svensson

I was absolutely heartbroken to learn, today, that acclaimed Swedish jazz pianist Esbjörn Svensson passed away last weekend at the young age of 44.

I was first introduced to the music of the Esbjörn Svensson Trio, also known as EST, in the late 1990s while I was living in Sweden. The album was EST Plays Monk and it completely altered my perception of what a jazz trio could sound like; I was a fan from the first note.

Since then, I’ve followed Svensson’s music closely, bought and loved all of his albums, and I even had the opportunity to meet EST when I booked them to perform on ZeD for CBC Television.

The beauty of EST‘s music lies in its ability to seamlessly weave elements of rock, jazz, avant-garde, and classical into an ever-evolving melodic and rhythmic flow that is utterly captivating and otherwordly. If you have never listened to Svensson’s music before, I strongly encourage you to do so. For me, “Behind the Yashmak” remains one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard.

Esbjörn Svensson was an incomparable talent; he was one of the most original and dynamic piano players I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to, and I am deeply saddened by his sudden death.  I will cherish the legacy of his music and mourn the loss of his incredible potential. My condolences go out to all who knew and loved him. Rest in peace.

Esbjörn Svensson, who died on Saturday aged 44 in a scuba-diving accident near Stockholm, was a pianist and leader of the innovative Esbjörn Svensson Trio, popularly known as EST.

The trio, founded in the early 1990s, played an unclassifiable brand of music which incorporated avant-garde jazz, contemporary rock and elements of modern classical music in constantly varying proportions.

Its live performances, in particular, were exciting, unpredictable and hugely popular with young audiences. The trio’s fame was still growing strongly at the time of Svensson’s death.

Esbjörn Svensson was born on April 16 1964 at Västeras, Sweden. His mother was a classical pianist and his father a keen jazz enthusiast, and the boy grew up with an equal love for both genres, as well as for rock.

He took up the piano “because we didn’t have any other instrument in the house”, although he would have preferred the drums. Quite soon he met another schoolboy, Magnus Oström, who did have some drums and they began playing together: “We had no idea how to play, but it was a lot of fun … No one was telling us how to play.” Oström was to become the drummer with EST.

At 16 Svensson gained a place at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, going on later to study Music at Stockholm University. During this time he played in a number of small jazz combos in Sweden and Denmark before finding work in the recording studios.

Many of my friends were looking forward to seeing EST perform at this year’s Vancouver Jazz Festival on June 24th.

Coastal Jazz & Blues Society, producers of the TD Canada Trust Vancouver International Jazz Festival, wishes to express its profound sadness at the news of Esbjorn Svensson’s death on the weekend. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

The acclaimed Swedish pianist and leader of the group e.s.t. died Saturday while scuba diving near his home in Stockholm. e.s.t. was scheduled to perform June 24 at The Centre on a double bill with the John Scofield Trio during the TD Canada Trust Vancouver International Jazz Festival.

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