Of the Norwegian artists that ECM has introduced over the years, pianist Tord Gustavsen must count as one of the least “Nordic” in musical temperament. If the contemplative component of his music and its quietude still reflect Scandinavian priorities, the manner in which he has sought and located connections to early jazz – especially the blues, gospel music, and the nexus of Caribbean music and New Orleans jazz - is entirely his own. 'The Ground' reveals a stronger sense of purpose and a greater conceptual rigour than 'Changing Places' , the trio's debut album. Without sacrificing the clear-edged melodic sensibility that can already be considered one of the hallmarks of Gustavsen’s writing, the musicians are better able to do improvise within the structure of the pieces. An immediate popular success, 'The Ground' topped Norway's pop charts in its second week of release.