It's a damn shame that Leucocyte is the final studio album by the Esbjörn Svensson Trio. Svensson died in a tragic diving accident in June of 2008, shortly after this set was finished. More than any other recording issued by this excellent band, Leucocyte captures the art of music making at the moment of conception; it was recorded as live-in-the-studio improvisation over two days in an Australian studio. It was completely finished, post-production and all, with a release date before Svensson's death. The words "post-production" mean plenty when it comes to E.S.T.'s music. The trio often recorded and added sonic effects to their structured, composed pieces. It underscored their hip sophistication and accessibility. It made them a hit with both jazz fans and younger audiences who listen to Radiohead, Sigur Rós, and even heavy metal more than jazz.
The “Jazz album of the decade 2000 – 2010” (London Times). In a word: wow. Since their 1993 debut album, the Esbjörn Svensson Trio, or E.S.T., as it is usually called, have taken the jazz world by storm, winning numerous awards, playing sold-out world tours, topping the charts, and generally enjoying a popularity that's exceeded that of almost any other jazz group in years. The trio was also the first European jazz group to grace the cover of Down Beat magazine, which led to long discussions about the heritage of jazz and the validity of European jazz; and, naturally, it caused some listeners to perceive an artificial hype and discredit the band for simply not being as brilliant as everyone says they are.
Though jazz was born and bred in the United States, its influence long ago spread throughout the world, and its popularity overseas has continued to grow even as its significance on the American music scene has waned. This Swedish group, also known as the Esbjörn Svensson Trio, is among the jazz trios to land on North American shores, and their acoustic jazz sound seems certain to build a following in the States.
Sweden's preeminent jazz fusion band the Esbjörn Svensson Trio, named after the charismatic and inventive pianist, has been a sensation in Europe since the early '90s, capturing numerous Swedish Grammys (including one for Tuesday Wonderland long before its Stateside release), a French Grammy, and gold and platinum awards in their home country, Germany and France. But they deserve more than this – a medal, actually – for finding a unique blend of melodic jazz, classical, electronica and rock – that has earned them an audience of both older jazz lovers and trendy hip-hop kids. It speaks to the freshness of their vibe that their videos play regularly on MTV Scandinavia and they're the only European jazz band ever to grace the cover of Downbeat.
Available for quite some time as an import before the tiny Philadelphia-based indie 215 Records finally released it stateside, complete with a bonus live DVD, 2003's Seven Days of Falling is every bit the equal of E.S.T.'s earlier records. Misguided American media comparisons to the highly overrated the Bad Plus have done pianist Esbjörn Svensson, bassist Dan Berglund, and drummer Magnus Ostrom a grave disservice, as their music is far more wide-ranging and much less gimmicky.
Recent winners of BBC Jazz Awards International artists of the year awards, EST are that rare thing in jazz; a band with a true cult following. Renowned as re-inventors of the piano trio their music has increasingly found its own form and its own sonic world. On December 10, 2000 Stockholm´s famous Nalen rockclub was the setting of a concert of the Swedish trio e.s.t. (Esbjörn Svensson Trio) that has been captured for this DVD.
In a word: wow. Since their 1993 debut album, the Esbjörn Svensson Trio, or E.S.T., as it is usually called, have taken the jazz world by storm, winning numerous awards, playing sold-out world tours, topping the charts, and generally enjoying a popularity that's exceeded that of almost any other jazz group in years. The trio was also the first European jazz group to grace the cover of Down Beat magazine, which led to long discussions about the heritage of jazz and the validity of European jazz; and, naturally, it caused some listeners to perceive an artificial hype and discredit the band for simply not being as brilliant as everyone says they are.
Despite the fact that 2008’ Leucocyte, would be the Esbjörn Svensson Trio's final album due to the tragic scuba diving accident that killed Svensson, this was a band that had traversed such wide musical territory they deserved a retrospective treatment simply to sum up what had transpired between the release of 1993’s When Everyone Has Gone and that premature finale. While this 70-minute single disc doesn’t contain any unreleased material, or pre-1999 material (in favor of presenting the trio’s fully developed aesthetic), it is beautifully compiled.
Together now for over a dozen years, e.s.t. has clearly developed a number of personal stylistic markers. Blending improvisation with a distinct pop sensibility that includes subtle use of electronics—with the exception of Dan Berglund's aggressive fuzztone arco bass—the trio has honed a sound incorporating elements of drum 'n' bass, electronica, funk, pop, classical and rock, without losing sight of its own voice. Often spoken of in the same breath as The Bad Plus, e.s.t. is the more elegant alternative, with considerably more finesse and richer colors than TBP's bombastic and monochromatic approach.