Hot Tracks #06

Esbjörn Svensson Trio: Good Morning Susie Soho
(Act Music, 2000)

Artist: Esbjörn Svensson Trio
Album: Good Morning Susie Soho
Published: September 1st, 2000
Label: ACT Music
Produced by: Esbjörn Svensson Trio
Recorded: March – April 2000
Recorded at: Atlantis Studios, Stockhom (SE)
Engineered by: Janne Hansson
Mastered by: Johan Ekelund at Stereolab in June 2000

Esbjörn Svensson: piano
Dan Berglund: double bass
Magnus Öström: drums

Shortened as E.S.T. by general public, Esbjörn Svensson Trio was made of (like thousands of jazz trios on our planet) a pianist, a double-bassist, and a drummer… past tense is unfortunately a must, given how Esbjörn Svensson died in 2008, aged only 44, in a diving accident happened at sea near (his) Stockholm.

When the original article on this album was published by Sound & Lite, Good Morning Susie Soho had just been published and released. streaming platforms that, today, allow you to listen almost anything, almost instantly, were still a long way coming – and any “new” release back then,exactly for this reason, tended to “keep sounding new” for a longer period than it may today (as in “a wheel spinning twice as fast will wear out same in half the time”).

22 years after such release, Good Morning Susie Soho still sounds… like new, objectively: fresh, all but obvious, and not at all banal – even to, and especially to, the trained ear of jazz fans.
when it appeared, it was just the second E.S.T. album to have been distributed outside the borders of native Sweden – and, contrary to their previous From Gagarin’s Point Of View of 1999, it quickly rose to unusually high sales figures, boosted by the E.S.T. appearance at Montreaux Jazz Festival before an audience that was indeed more “international” to them, than just “simply” Swiss.

Quite often, lovers of “cultured” music seem to rate value and quality of an artistic release as inversely proportional to its sales’ success and popularity… it’s quite an elitist take on the purpose of artists endeavours, and a logic that was smashed to smithereens by this very record, later helped by the power of streaming platforms that came shortly thereafter – i still have a clear recollection of how tricky it was to buy E.S.T. CDs in those years, when even a search on amazon.com wasn’t returning any occurrence!

already after From Gagarin’s Point Of View, and even more after this Good Morning Susie Soho, any “standard” jazz trio of the times got a “before” tag, no matter how elegant, sophisticated, or plainly virtuoso it was: as if, suddenly, it had turned into a sepia-hued picture, ready to be framed to the wall, maybe gorgeous, richly detailed and refined – but sepia and inexorably static, un-animated, unlikely to evolve into a futuristic proposition.

to the causal listener, it’s fair to say that, even after a first listening pass, it’s hard to figure out what will happen in the next twelve bars of any of the tracks on “Good Morning Susie Soho”, or at least this holds true for those listeners that aren’t themselves actively practicing jazz-based improvisation… but even this isn’t enough to explain how innovative this trio was, and still is, in the world wide map of jazz trios.

think about some of the famous trios inducted to the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame of ever… The Jimi Hendrix Experience with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell? Cream, by Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker? The Police, by Andy Summers, Gordon Sumner and Stewart Copeland? or The Who, leaving Roger Daltrey aside for a minute, and keeping only Pete Townshend, John Entwhistle and Keith Moon?

E.S.T. was undoubtedly a jazz trio, even if jazz audiences leaning to the “purist” or “traditional” side of etiquette weren’t exactly welcoming of their most innovative language at first – and still, in their playing, the awareness of interplay techniques from jazz dialects were applied as in non-jazz context, with a sound gestalt that’s somewhat closer to Radiohead, or Massive Attack, or The Cure, even, than the Oscar Peterson Trio, or John McLaughlin and Mahavishnu Orchestra.

conversely, while not a typical jazz trio album, expanded onto a palette of wider frequency spectrum, higher-contrast dynamics, daring space effects, modulation techniques, and a highly measured of strategic distortion in their recipe… Good Morning Susie Soho sounds like if aliens from Mars parked their spaceship nearby a Keith Jarrett Trio gig, and hijacked the stage during the break between soundcheck and showtime!

i’ve personally witnessed the magnet of Good Morning Susie Soho attracting listeners severely bored by anything jazz, including millenial teenagers bobbing their head to it, considering any jazz trio before this as otherwise dull, weak, or simply uncomprehensible…

which proves the point for which it was originally enlisted among the Hot Tracks selection: it is the sound that speaks to listeners’ hearts and senses – and on Good Morning Susie Soho sound is the unexpected fourth member in the trio, and the most influential of it all!

at https://www.soundonsound.com/music-business/atlantis-studios-stockholm you can find the article by Sound On Sound magazine on the studio were album was recorded and mixed.

listen to it on Tidal · on Qobuz · on Apple Music

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