Stripped to its core, music is communication. It is the accompaniment to life's movie. The first fabulists, our cavemen ancestors probably invented music by imitating the sounds of nature, such as bird calls, wolf howls, and the patter of rain on the cave's entrance. The pleasure delivered by that experience caused several members of the cavemen's tribe to give up hunting-and-gathering for a steady gig as musicians. Fast forward twenty thousand years and with noted music in place, our Bird, Charlie Parker, a bluesman, Howlin' Wolf, and the rainmaker, Buddy Rich became the 20th storytellers Music without notation, ...read more
Having co-opted reed iconoclast Mats Gustafsson to pen the enthusiastic liners for their prosaically-named Two Nights in April (Ayler Records, 2010), young Swedish trio Correction goes one better on Shift by persuading their countryman to actually participate in the session. Over its five year existence, the threesome of pianist Sebastian Bergström, bassist Joacim Nyberg and drummer Emil Astrand-Melin has forged a cohesive group identity, built on freedom within a recognizably modern jazz idiom. Gustafsson convinces as the perfect guest, adding energetic saxophone stylings to their driving structures. In terms of references, Portugal's acclaimed RED Trio comes to mind, ...read more
Stones is a recording of the very first meeting of two remarkable saxophonists--legendary Swedish baritone and tenor player Mats Gustafsson and Montreal-based American Colin Stetson, a member of Arcade Fire's touring band as well as bass saxophonist of choice for an impressive list of musicians including Laurie Anderson, David Byrne and Tom Waits. The album's four tracks--some thirty-five minutes of music--were recorded live onstage at the Vancouver Jazz Festival in 2011 and feature the two saxophonists alone together. Saxophone duos are comparatively rare, with many of them involving Anthony Braxton or Evan Parker with others or together. Despite ...read more
Reedman Mats Gustafsson resides at the center of a hurricane of activity: relentlessly touring, curating festivals and begetting record labels. He boasts one of most distinctive sounds in free jazz, combining the extremes of scalp prickling howls with adventurous exploration of minimalist tone and timbre. Although he's come a long way since his early days in a punk rock band in Sweden's Lapland, that anarchic energy is never far away, revealed in collaborations with luminaries from both the Old and New Worlds, such as reedmen Peter Brötzmann, Ken Vandermark and Joe McPhee, and guitarists Thurston Moore, Jim O'Rourke and Yoshihide ...read more
Young Norwegian power trio Ich bin N!ntendo is a sonic heir to European power outfits such as the Swedish-Norwegian trio The Thing, Italian punk-jazz trio Zu, and Dutch quartet The Ex. Its affinity with Swedish sax titan Mats Gustafsson of The Thing, who guests on this live recording, is obvious. Both enjoy exploring and pushing the physical aspects of their instruments into utter intensity. This debut album was recorded live in Oslo, later mixed, mastered and destroyed" by noise artist Lasse Marhaug. More accurately, Marhaug managed to inject some sonic coherence into the dirty, reckless noisy soundscapes ...read more
Recorded live at the 2011 Hagen Festen in Sweden, this meeting of experienced free improvisers--Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and drummer Raymond Strid, and British guitarist John Russell-- is quite surprising. No muscular, fiery playing of reckless abandon, as is normally expected from the powerful Gustafsson in regular outfits such as The Thing, Fire! or Swedish Radio Jazz Group; instead, Birds is spare, thoughtful, and under commanding control. Maybe it was the naturally relaxed village environment of the festival, or the inspiration by author Tomas Bannerhed's novel Korparna (The Ravens) (Weyler förlag, 2011), from which the titles to ...read more
If abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock could be asked how his instant drip paintings reflect the entire history of modern art, he might have replied that his body movements, splatters, flinging, flipping and pouring of paint act as a channel for all this painterly knowledge--and that of his forefathers and contemporaries. Likewise, this two-disc set of music by electronic artist Kieran Hebden, drummer Steve Reid and Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson transmits music from the free jazz experiments of the 1960s through the experimental electronica movements of today. Recorded in 2009, Live At The South Bank is sadly the ...read more
Much like conceptual artist Piero Manzoni's Merda d'artista project, trumpeter Peter Evans, pianist Agustí Fernández, and saxophonist Mats Gustafsson present this all-acoustic improvisation session called Kopros Lithos, or fossilized dung."In 1961, Manzoni set about to produce 90 cans of his own feces as a limited edition art piece. In 2007, one can sold at auction for 124,000 Euro.This project refers to dinosaur droppings, a much prized fossil. Indeed, the group's sound (which is occasionally musical) draws from minimal improvisation, noise, and plenty of surprise. All three players are part of the cutting-edge tradition of improvised music: ...read more
For anyone who has recently seen Mats Gustafsson live in concert, either with The Thing or in his own right, Needs! is likely be a surprise. In addition to his baritone and slide saxophones, here Gustafsson employs live electronics and bug treatments." Photographs of him in action indicate that these involve miking the bell of his saxophone and then processing the output. He combines the acoustic sounds of his saxophones with the amplified sounds of the electronic devices, mixing them as overdubs as well as live improvisations. The resulting music is far removed from the intense, rhythmically-charged music that he ...read more
The language of free improvisation is decades old now and its power to shock has arguably diminished accordingly. If there's something in the contention that everything once radical is eventually co-opted by an ever broadening mainstream, free improvisation still gives the lie to it. Still the creative process behind it can appear inscrutable, and the very lack of predetermination often gives the resulting music a singular tension and release. Both that creative process and the tension and release are here in abundance. All three musicians are well versed in the language but what often gives the music ...read more
I've read interviews with jazz musicians that have told of their first hearing John Coltrane's LP A Love Supreme (Impulse!,1964) and their seemingly inability to turn over the vinyl and play the second side, fearing that it would not compare to the first side. This listener had a similar experience listening to the first (and title) track of this recording. Clocking in at more than twenty seven minutes, it is an entire meal in itself, leaving one satisfied or wondering if the remaining thirty minutes of music could possibly be as good.
I tell you this, because for ...read more
Online, there is a website called the Metal Family Tree . Jazz, though in existence for much longer, has resisted being broken into such small edible pieces. If, though, we take inspiration (and terminology) from the Metal Family Tree, the Italian trio Zu could easily be classified as Sludge Doom, a more abrasive version of the dark rock of Black Sabbath. Comprised of baritone sax (Luca Mai), electric bass (Massimo Pupillo) and drums (Jacopo Battaglia), Zu paint grim post-apocalyptic musical portraits in discordant colors and thick brush-jabs. But Zu approach this genre with a slightly sardonic humor (their last album ...read more
For a duo, pianist Agusti Fernández and saxophonist Mats Gustafsson are capable of producing a huge dynamic range and variety of sounds. At one extreme Gustafsson can generate the same kind of intensely hard-edged tone and energy as Peter Brötzmann (of whose Tentet he is an occasional member) or Ken Vandermark (another Tentet member). When, as on Critical Mass 4:26, this is combined with a sustained torrent of chords from Fernández, the resulting music can induce the kind of adrenalin rush that gets people hooked on improv.
Right at the other extreme, Gustafsson produces some of the most minimalist sounds ...read more
Hailing from Rome, the free jazz power trio Zu has been making considerable waves in the indie underground. With a resume boasting numerous tours and collaborative recording sessions with Eugene Chadbourne, Dälek, The Ex, Nomeansno and Ken Vandermark, the members of Zu have proven themselves capable of holding their own against the underground's heaviest contenders, regardless of genre. The group's most recent endeavor, How To Raise an Ox, also features a guest improviser, saxophonist Mats Gustafsson.
Heavily amplified and deriving inspiration from post-punk as well as such renowned electric free jazz ensembles as Last Exit and Painkiller, Zu ...read more
Join our growing community ofwriters, musicians, visual artists and advocates.
One moment, you will be redirected shortly.