Swedish jazzman Svensson dies in scuba accident

Sun Jun 15, 2008 6:28pm EDT
 
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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish jazz pianist and composer Esbjorn Svensson, who helped break genre boundaries and attracted a young audience outside the traditional jazz scene, died in a scuba diving accident on Saturday, his manager said.

Burkhard Hopper, manager of the Esbjorn Svensson Trio (e.s.t.), said Svensson, 44, died on Saturday in Sweden's Stockholm archipelago.

Svensson was a big name in international jazz circles with e.s.t. winning critical acclaim and commercial success from Japan to the United States, mainly in European countries such as Germany, France and Britain, with albums such as Viaticum (2005) and Tuesday Wonderland (2006).

"Musically, he was the light that lit the world because in what he did he was pushing boundaries. Himself, he said he was following the music inside himself," Hopper said by telephone from Germany.

"His music inspired people in all corners of the world."

E.s.t., which also includes Dan Berglund and Magnus Ostrom, was the first European group to hit the cover of prestigious U.S. jazz magazine Down Beat, in 2006. The group won several important honors, including the European Jazz Award and the BBC Jazz Award, Hopper said.

The group, renowned for playing in rock venues to young crowds, had recently finished its eleventh album, Lencocyte, that had been due for commercial release in September.

Some 60-70 people, including jazz star Pat Metheny, had called throughout the day to offer their condolences.

"Esbjorn was one of the finest people I ever met in my life. He was humble, modest and appreciative of the work those working with him. He was extremely respectful of other people," Hopper said.

Svensson leaves a wife and two children.

(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; Editing by Jon Boyle)

 
<p>Sweden's Esbjorn Svensson performs during the Pontevedra Jazz Festival in north western Spain in this file photo from July 23, 2005. REUTERS/Miguel Vidal</p>