on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2018 15 Apr

New E.S.T live album

von: Brian Whistler Filed under: Blog | TB | 13 Comments



I’m sure that Esborn Svennson’s untimely death affected many Manafonistas and readers – it certainly affected me deeply.

To tell the truth, when I first heard them I was not particularly blown away. Then I bought the American release, Somewhere Else Before, a compilation culled primarily from From Gagarin’s point of View and Good Morning Susie Soho, (both excellent early albums), and I was hooked – I became a rabid fan, buying every subsequent release and eventually collecting their entire catalog. And hungry for more.

So naturally, I responded to the news that ACT is releasing a new live double CD with great joy and expectation. This trio holds a special place in the jazz universe – and in my heart. They were a singular force of nature- sadly, I never got to see them live.

This is one of those rare trios, the kind whose chemistry can only come about by growing up playing music together. I am looking forward to this one with great anticipation.


This entry was posted on Sonntag, 15. April 2018 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    I have never been in love with that band. One exception:

    LEUCOCYTE is incredible. E.S.T. were surely a great band that knew how the keep „suspense“ high. Nevertheless, with albums like „Tuesday Wonderland“ they approached a degree of perfection that was impressive, but at the same time implied a problem: the music could become a formula, a well-done melange of modern piano jazz, raw rock energies and classical undertones. They had reached a point, where you could have said: „Well, I have a notion what their next album would sound like!“

    But then: „Leucocyte“ grew out of a marathon-session-time in an Australian studio. It is an album that takes every possible risk. It is definitely their most radical piece of music: wild, enigmatic – and, most of all, unpredictable! I was excited when I heared it for the first time, and I was even more excited when I had listened twice!

    This will be a masterpiece in jazz history (if you give the term „jazz“ a wide reaching definition including big spaces, zones of emptiness and psychedelic wonder!). The pieces nearly float into one another, with muscular grooves, discomforting zones of danger, and, sounds strange to say, a nearly otherworldly beauty!

  2. ijb:

    Couldn’t agree more.

  3. Brian Whistler:

    I’m a little more forgiving of their later work. I think there was an evolution – the pieces became more complex harmonically, and judging by the live in Hamburg album, they were still taking chances, at least onstage.

    If you loved Leucocyte, you should definitely check out the posthumously release, 301. I believe this music came out of the same sessions that produced leukocyte. And it’s more of the same: seat of your pants experimentation at a very high-level.

  4. Michael Engelbrecht:

    You are right: 301 is great, too. Just forgot its name.
    One trick for writing quick: don‘t google.

  5. Michael Engelbrecht:

    90 percent of ACT records bores me to death.
    There are a few exceptions though.

  6. ijb:

    Here too I could not agree more emphatically.

  7. Brian Whistler:

    I love early Nguyen Le, which after his two superb Universal releases (Miracles and Zanzibar,) was all on ACT.

    Unfortunately, his later output doesn’t move me as much, but I think a lot of that is part of his evolution as opposed to his label. But I could be wrong about that: I do know that Magic Constant, easily the best tune on his album Saiyuki (his last great album IMO,) was nixed by the producer/owner as not fitting in with the rest of the album. It should’ve been the centerpiece of the album. Eventually the track was released (albeit in a truncated, edited form,) on Le’s handpicked double CD Signature anthology.

    I wonder if the boring part comes from a producer who limits his artist’s vision? By the way, I like a number of ACT releases – such as Lars Danielssons Libretto albums with Tigran. But it may be this producer has such a narrow view for the label that he’s squeezing some of the life out of the music.

  8. Michael Engelbrecht:

    No hard feelings. I said there are exceptions, just don‘t want to list them …

  9. Brian Whistler:

    Maghreb and Friends is a killer album.

  10. Michael Engelbrecht:

    I‘m sure there are many fantastic albums out there I have never even heard of. And there are a lot of fantastic works I never want to listen to one more time. Not my taste, simple as that.

  11. Brian Whistler:

    I get that you don’t like shredding fusion guitarists generally speaking. Well I don’t either.

    For what it’s worth, N Le happens to be a decent composer, which sets him apart from the Dimeolas of the world imo. Le has at least 3 masterpieces on ACT: Bakida, my favorite of his three trios, (with Michel Benita and Renaud Fons Garcia.) Now here is a trio where the tunes take center stage and the playing, while virtuosic, is always in service to the music.

    Magrehb and Friends is a high watermark of world jazz, employing Moroccan musicians in a perfect balance that is in my opinion, still unparalleled today. And it smokes.

    Then there’s Walking on the Tiger’s Tail, perhaps Le’s most successful album compositionally. Art Lande and Paul McCandless are on there as well as Jamie Haddad on drums. (No bass player.) This is an album made after he almost succumbed to cancer. It’s as deep as they come and as inspiring. Great writing on there and a lot of passion.

    Three Trios is also worth honorable mention. High energy and features three different trios.

  12. Michael Engelbrecht:

    No, no:

    Fantastic „fusion“ artists and much more: Steve Tibbetts, early John Mc., the guitarists of Miles of the Aghartha and Pangaea sessions, and, YES, Frank Zappa! Volker Kriegel in Germany! Terje Typdal and Eivind Aarset!

    A propos that album you mention. Crisis is no guarantee for great art. And, maybe that one IS a great album.

  13. Brian whistler:

    I agree on all those folks you mention and would put any of those three albums I mentioned up against any of those artists-They are that good. Richard Lehnert, main music reviewer for Stereophile said (after I played some of this music for him) that Le’s writing reminded him a lot of Zappa’s.

    For the record, Walking on the Tiger’s Tail is an extraordinary piece of work. And both Bakida and Maghreb and Friends remain two of the finest world jazz/fusion albums in my collection.

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