Swedish drummer Magnus Öström made his name with e.s.t., a band whose fifteen year career and increasing power was abruptly halted by the tragic passing of their pianist Esbjörn Svensson in 2008. Though devastating for Öström and trio bassist Dan Berglund, both were propelled forward by music, finishing a final album from their last sessions as a trio and establishing new musical projects of their own. The influence of e.s.t., who boldly introduced electronics to the jazz trio palette, can be heard today in the music of acts such as GoGo Penguin, Dave Douglas’ High Risk and Phronesis and Öström has retained much of what was loved about their music in his solo work.
Ahead of his return to Band on the Wall on 29th January, we run through five songs to introduce Öström and his work, from the early nineties to the present day.
Esbjörn Svensson trio – Tough Tough
During the early days of e.s.t., the band’s sound didn’t extend too far beyond their acoustic instrumentation and a style that bared a resemblance to the trio they loved; that of pianist Keith Jarrett, drummer Charlie Haden and drummer Paul Motian. That being said, Öström’s drumming was a particular indicator of a more contemporary, rock-influenced leaning and this is exemplified on Tough Tough, with it’s forceful rhythm and punchy drum sound.
Jazz Furniture – February
The origins of e.s.t. lie in many projects, Jazz Furniture being one of them. A sextet who intended to become anything but part of the furniture; their debut album contributed to their winning of the Jazz i Sverige (Jazz in Sweden) award in 1994 and is a collection of ambitious material that label Caprice says could be a called ‘a kind of ”trash jazz”.’
Esbjörn Svensson Trio – Premonition suite
Leucocyte is the final work to be released before Svensson’s untimely passing and represents exactly what is phenomenal about e.s.t.. As Thom Jurek writes for AllMusic ‘Leucocyte captures the art of music making at the moment of conception’, a reference to the fact that the music was entirely improvised. Recorded at studio 301 in Sydney over two days, the band may have been mindful of Sydney’s improvised music scene and the working practice of bands like The Necks, who themselves improvise and later overdub with their studio recordings.
Öström’s playing begins subtly, decorating the pulsing bass lines of a motivated Dan Berglund, but becomes the dominant factor as the piece progresses, with a crisp groove, heavy in china cymbal, daring heavier electronics to enter the frame.
Magnus Öström – Between
Öström’s debut solo album was incredibly well received, winning him an Echo Jazz award in Germany and bringing him together with musicians who he continues to collaborate with today. This brooding composition from the album’s B-side is melodic, sweeting towards as it develops and demonstrating how Öström, like all great drummers, can serve the song as well as taking the reigns.
Magnus Öström – Parachute / The Green Man and the French Horn
These two pieces from Öström’s latest solo album Parachute demonstrate the diversity of his music; the first, a pacy and energetic composition with Andreas Hourdakis’ jaunty guitar lines reminiscent of prog bands like Gentle Giant or Happy the Man, the second a gentler composition, with Öström’s brushes a motif for his gliding across a misty lake in the accompanying video.