Swedish Jazz pianist Esbjörn Svensson (1964 – 2008) died prematurely five years ago today at the young age of 44. The magnificent “From Gagarin’s point of view” stands out as one of the trio’s most recognizable ballads. It also featured on the trio’s eponymous 1999 recording, their first international breakthrough album to be released outside Sweden on the German label ACT Music. Playing a wonderful hybrid jazz music influenced by compatriot Jan Johansson of course but also by classical, pop, rock and techno music, constantly experimenting with and distorting sound, the trio definitely brought jazz (or “a vision of what it can be” as the New York Times once put it) to an entirely new audience.
In a 2006 interview published posthumously in All About Jazz, Esbjörn Svensson had this fascinating insight while discussing the meaning of music and the notion of time:
I think music is a way of being, it’s like being kind of a god, to create a universe, to create time, to create the stars, and to create an end. When you start playing, the world, the universe could be beginning, and it could be filled with anything, and it lasts as long as the music lasts. When the music finished, that is it. It’s a specific time that you create within time, within our reality; you create another universe with the piece of music you’re playing. We are kind of creators, all of us when we are playing music or are listening to music.