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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Fire!: The Hands

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There are reasons to consider the 2018 release of The Hands as an important one for Fire! It was in 2008 that saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, bassist Johan Berthling and drummer Andreas Werlin first came together as a trio with the idea of a fresh approach to improvised music. Given the groups that the three were in at the time--Gustafsson in The Thing and others, Werlin in Wildbirds and Peacedrums, and Berthling in Angles--it was all too easy for Fire! to ...

BOOK REVIEWS

All That's Jazz

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All That's Jazz Sammy Stein 198 Pages ISBN: 13: 978-0-9557670-9-8 Tomahawk Press 2017 Sammy Stein is a brave woman. Take that title--not just a riff on “All That Jazz" to cover a personal memoir of time spent in the jazz trenches but ALL that IS jazz. This is a book that in the author's words attempts to ..."share this wonderful music with as many as possible, to allow people to understand that jazz ...

Mats Gustafsson

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If Mats Gustafsson's approach to music were to be described with a single adjective, it would have to be “intense." This applies to him both as a musician, as illustrated by over three decades of playing with stalwarts of the free and creative jazz scenes on both sides of the Ocean (Ken Vandermark, Peter Brötzmann, Joe McPhee, Derek Bailey etc.), and as a voracious crate-digger and record-trader with a two and a half ton vinyl cave in rural Austria. We ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mats Gustafsson/ Alfred Vogel: Blow + Beat

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Swedish saxophone powerhouse Mats Gustafsson was playing with his trio--The Thing--at the 2016 Beazau Beatz Festival when he hooked up with the excellent, but under-recognized, Austrian drummer Alfred Vogel, who hosts the outing. The resulting Blow + Beat is an extraordinarily challenging musical experiment from two fearless advocates of free thought. The saxophone/drum duo is an improvisational gauntlet, not meant for the faint of heart but still welcoming of curious listeners.Gustafsson has been a member of no less ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mats Gustafsson & Craig Taborn: Ljubljana

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Congratulations to whomever conceived of this pairing of two improvised music giants. Pianist Craig Taborn and saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, both born in the great white north (so to speak), Taborn in Minneapolis and Gustafsson, Umeå, in Northern Sweden. Both are original and distinctive improvisers whose paths had never crossed until the 2015 Ljubljana Jazz Festival. Taborn, of late, has been christened heir to the improvised piano chair of Keith Jarrett by ECM records chief Manfred Eicher. This is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mats Gustafsson: MG50 Peace & Fire

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Mats Gustafsson at fifty. Name another artist who has had this significant and widespread effect on jazz, noise, free improvisation, alternative rock, electronica, and free jazz. Besides John Zorn, that pool is quite shallow. Gustafsson's music seems to attract innovative players into imaginative situations. If you are a fan, this 50th birthday celebration recorded in October, 2014 at Porgy and Bess, Vienna is your personal slice of cake. If you know nothing about Gustafsson's music, this is a great introduction ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mats Gustafsson: Piano Mating

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Sure, saxophonist Mats Gustafsson is a rock star. A star in the same sense that Thurston Moore is a jazz artist or Merzbow generates ambient sounds. It's not so much that we would expect to see those three gentlemen receiving a Grammy Award, but that imitators of their styles will. Someday. In other words, innovators pioneer sounds, take Charlie Parker of instance, that others capitalizes on. If you follow Gustafsson's career, you must always expect the unexpected. Early ...

BEST OF / YEAR END

John Sharpe's Best Releases of 2015

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Here in no special order are ten new releases, reviewed in All About Jazz, which stood out among those I heard this year. Mats Gustafsson Hidros 6 Knockin' (Not Two Records) An avant-garde jazz composition based on the songs of '50s rocker Little Richard. Really? Yep, that's the premise behind Swedish reedman Mats Gustafsson's large scale work recorded at the Krakow Jazz Autumn in 2013. A significant part of the achievement is down ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mats Gustafsson & Nu Ensemble: Hidros 6: Knockin'

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An avant-garde jazz composition based on the songs of '50s rocker Little Richard. Really? Yep, that's the premise behind Swedish reedman Mats Gustafsson's large scale work recorded at the Krakow Jazz Autumn in 2013. Although best known for his small group output with The Thing and Fire!, Gustafsson has regularly assembled bigger groupings during his career, most recently his Fire! Orchestra. Through a festival commission, Gustafsson was granted the opportunity to convene the 12-strong all star Nu Ensemble which rehearsed ...