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Parting Words: On Art

GUY RAZ, host:

This is the music of Swedish jazz pianist Esbjorn Svensson. He died last week at the age of 44 in a scuba diving accident. His experimental jazz outfit, the Esbjorn Svensson Trio or EST, had a wide following in Europe. Svensson himself was often called the European Keith Jarrett. He wasn't a purist when it came to jazz. Svensson borrowed from hip-hop, and funk, and rock music.

He and his band mates would sometimes feed their instruments through different machines to warp the effect and make the music sound like something a traditional jazz trio could never produce.

(Soundbite of EST)

RAZ: Svensson would even reach into the bowels of his piano to pluck the strings.

Mr. ESBJORN SVENSSON (Musician): Which a lot of piano technicians just hate.

RAZ: That's Esbjorn Svensson speaking with NPR's Brian Naylor in 2002.

Mr. SVENSSON: There's a lot of interesting thing actually going on in Europe and we don't have the tradition like you have here with your own folk music. We don't have to take care about it in that sense. So we can experiment more maybe and add some rock and roll, add some classical music, whatever we want, to add some new sound.

(Soundbite of EST)

RAZ: Jazz critic Ian Patterson writes that Svensson's death brought down the curtain upon one of the most brilliant piano trios to enliven the modern jazz panorama, unsettled the jazz police, and to attract all comers. Pianist Esbjorn Svensson was 44 years old. Just before his death, he and his band finished recording their 12th album. It's due out this September. We leave you now with his 2002 composition, "Bound for the Beauty of the South."

(Soundbite of "Bound for the Beauty of the South")

RAZ: Parting words tonight, inspired by Svensson's take on jazz. They come from British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, and he writes, Art flourishes where there is a sense of adventure. A sense of nothing having been done before of complete freedom to experiment. But when caution comes in, you get repetition, and repetition is the death of art.

(Soundbite of "Bound for the Beauty of the South")

RAZ: That's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz. Andrea Seabrook's back next week. Have a great night. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.