5

Mats Gustafsson: Stones

John Eyles By

Sign in to view read count
Mats Gustafsson: Stones 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 his vast discography, Gustafsson has rarely been drawn to the format—although he has often played in a trio with fellow Chicago Tentet saxophonists Peter Brötzmann and Ken Vandermark. With Gustafsson and Stetson alone onstage, wielding a baritone saxophone and a bass saxophone in front of an audience, there was clearly the potential for this encounter to become a testosterone-fuelled battle for supremacy between two gunslingers...

Miraculously, it never even approaches such a scenario. On the opening "Stones That Rest Heavily"—all the track titles were partly inspired by Gunnar Ekelöf (1907-1968), Sweden's first surrealist poet—instead of the deep, powerful tones of the two saxophones becoming akin to weapons, it is their warmth that predominates as the players metaphorically embrace one another, exchanging rich sustained notes and melodic phrases. Yes, each of them is packing an impressively powerful punch but, rather than directing them at each other, they work together to create beguiling music.

That goodwill and creativity continues on the remaining three tracks in a variety of forms. Each player occasionally employs his second horn, bringing freshness and variety to the music. At times they raise a smile with their antics, as on "Stones That Can Only Be," where they indulge in an extended spell of quacking at each other. The lack of a competitive edge does not mean the playing is bland. So, on the closing "Stones That Have Only," there is energetic, hard-edged playing from each musician, which verges on brutal at times but never turns nasty; its final passage brings the album to a suitably peaceful and harmonious conclusion. As Gustafsson comments of the whole encounter, "It was completely magic. All was there, the communication, the interaction, the music, the mystery." It is impossible to argue with a syllable of those sentiments. Very highly recommended.

Track Listing: Stones That Rest Heavily; Stones That Can Only Be; Stones That Need Not; Stones That Only Have.

Personnel: Colin Stetson: alto and bass saxophones; Mats Gustafsson: tenor and baritone saxophones.

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Rune Grammofon | Style: Modern Jazz


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Dreamsville CD/LP/Track Review Dreamsville
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 26, 2017
Read April CD/LP/Track Review April
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Adam's Apple CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Small World CD/LP/Track Review Small World
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 26, 2017
Read High Time CD/LP/Track Review High Time
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Rags And Roots CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "The Volume Surrounding the Task" CD/LP/Track Review The Volume Surrounding the Task
by John Eyles
Published: July 6, 2016
Read "Right Where I Need to Be" CD/LP/Track Review Right Where I Need to Be
by Jim Olin
Published: June 6, 2016
Read "Southern Lights" CD/LP/Track Review Southern Lights
by Budd Kopman
Published: May 26, 2016
Read "Time Being" CD/LP/Track Review Time Being
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 12, 2017
Read "Awakening" CD/LP/Track Review Awakening
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: January 5, 2017
Read "Crowded Solitudes" CD/LP/Track Review Crowded Solitudes
by John Sharpe
Published: July 24, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!