While e.s.t. has been on the music scene for about 10 years, this was my first exposure to the trio, which recently lost a key third of its essence when Swedish pianist/composer Esbjorn Svensson died as the result of a scuba diving accident near Stockholm. This album, Leucocyte, represents their last effort with Svensson and was released in tribute to the gifted musician.
I must admit to ambivalent feelings with respect to this project. Parts of it (e.g., both "Premonition" pieces and "Still") are puzzling and hard to interpret (a testament to the freedom of free jazz, I suppose), while other parts are crisp, defined, and polished ("Jazz" and the melodically lovely and impressive "Ajar" come to mind, even though the latter is one of the shortest on the album). Then, there is an uneven explosion of diversity, leading off with the heavy-fisted rock-influenced intro to the title tune that would make Black Sabbath blush. By the way, the title tune is actually divided over four tracks (7-10). Track 8 has such a collage of sounds and non-sounds, beginning in total silence, then embarking on an unintelligible and somewhat disturbing journey. Track 9, begins in an uncoordinated dance of noise, as well, but then evolves into a masterful display of Svensson’s skills on piano. Track 10 starts off continuing this display, then also eventually erodes in a sea of unnecessary sound effects that only distracted me from the trio’s point and quality.
I wish there were more here about which to be excited. Svensson was obviously a most talented, prolific, and creative mind who will surely be missed. The material presented here, however, may not have been the best representation of those skills. I certainly would love to hear his pure jazz offerings and even more of the illustrious beauty displayed in the aforementioned "Ajar." That is the impression with which this key figure in e.s.t. has left me, and I somehow feel that I’ve missed out on his best. I remain interested enough in this group to want to discover its earlier material in an effort to discover that side of it that I know must exist.