Mats Gustafsson


(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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In the 2000s Swedish saxophone Mats Gustafsson (1964) was one of the main practitioners of extended techniques.

Gustafsson formed Gush with keyboardist Sten Sandell and drummer Raymond Strid. They released: Tjo och tjim (August 1989) with Sven-Ake Johansson. From Things to Sounds (octobre 1990), Gushwachs (may 1994) with violinist/violist Phil Wachsmann (on which Gustafsson played French flageolett, soprano saxophone, baritone saxophone and fluteophone), none of which is particularly exciting. Electric Eel (november 1996), containing only two lengthy pieces, and Norrkoping (may 2003), containing three, were much better.

Gustafsson was prolific but rarely did his recordings achieve artistic peaks. Nothing to Read (march 1991) documents two live improvisations with percussionist Paul Lovens. Lovens, Gustafsson and bassist Barry Guy recorded Mouth Eating Trees and Related Activities (december 1992), one of his best performances yet. Parrot Fish Eye (october 1994) contains duets with percussionist Michael Zerang and recordings with bassist Gene Coleman and guitarist Jim O'Rourke. Christmann/Gustafsson/Lovens (december 1994) was a live concert with Lovens and Gunter Christmann on cello and trombone. You Forget to Answer (july 1995) collects improvisations with Barry Guy and Raymond Strid. Gryffgryffgryffs (january 1996) documents a concert with Barry Guy, Raymond Strid and pianist Marilyn Crispell. The "pasta concept" Battuto (october 1996) featured guitarist John Corbett, violinist Terri Kapsalis and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and includes the monumental Fusilli Bucati Lunghi. Improvisors (march 1996) was an unedited improvisation with with hyper-vocalist Jaap Blonk and percussionist Michael Zerang, replicated with the same title in june 1996 with vocalist Jaap Blonk and Bart Van Der Putten on alto sax and clarinet. The EP Lennart (april 1997), credited to Two Slices of Acoustic Car, contains five brief duets with guitarist Christian Munthe. Frogging (june 1997) was a collaboration with bassist Barry Guy that included Hyla Gratiosa (15.14). One to (Two) (august 1997) was a duo with Gunter Christmann on cello and trombone. Background Music (january 1998) was a trio with fellow saxofonist Guillermo Gregorio and percussionist Kjell Nordeson. Apertura (january 1998) was a lengthy 65-minute improvisation with David Grubbs on harmonium, and one of the best of the bunch. Sticky Tongues And Kitchen Knives (january 1999) was credited to Mats Gustafsson & His All-Stars but was just duets with John Corbett on CD players, turntables, mixing board and electric guitar. They Were Gentle And Pretty Pigs (february 1999) was a trio with Greg Goodman (prepared piano) and George Cremaschi (contrabass). Trees and Truths (april 2000) were duets with fellow saxophonists Hakan Blomkvist. Hidros 3 (october 2000) was a collaboration with the rock band Sonic Youth. I Love it when you Snore (november 2001) were duets (on baritone sax) with percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love.

Meanwhile, since the mid-1990s Gustafsson had joined Chicago's improvising community. His first collaboration with Ken Vandermark was the quartet FJF (with drummer Steve Hunt and bassist Kent Kessler) that recorded Blow Horn (october 1995) with Dedication (13.36), Blow Horn for Service (12.12) and the first version of his chamber composition Structure a la Malle (14.31). With percussionist Hamid Drake he recorded the untitled improvisations of For Don Cherry (october 1995). Xylophonen Virtuosen (september 1999) was a duo with guitarist Jim O'Rourke (and no xylophones). Port Huron Picnic (may 1999) was a trio with guitarist Kurt Newman and percussionist Mike Gennaro. Gustafsson also played in Peter Brotzmann's various Chicago octets and tentets. Peter Brotzmann and Mat Gustafsson fronted the Wild Mans Band, mostly a quartet, on The Wild Mans Band (november 1997), Three Rocks And A Pine (september 1999) and The Darkest River (may 2001), Sonore was Gustafsson, Vandermark and Brotzmann, documented only No one ever Works Alone (october 2003), Only the Devil has no Dreams (september 2006) and Call Before you Dig (december 2008).

His first proper solo album was the "concept opera" The Education of Lars Jerry (october 1995) on which he played tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, French flageolet and fluteophone. The CD-ROM Impropositions (june 1996) was more ambitious but still fairly fragmented. Windows (january 1999) was a Steve Lacy tribute. Slide (february 2005) was a 36-minute solo slide saxophone piece and Catapult (january 2005) was a series of baritone sax solos. The Vilnius Implosion (february 2008) collects solos for baritone sax, slide sax and alto fluteophone.

He performed live his major composition Hidros One (october 1997) with an ensemble featuring Sandell, Guy, Strid, Christmann, Fred Longberg-Holm, trumpeter Axel Dorner, Per-Ake Holmlander (tuba, cimbasso, aluminium tube), and fellow reedist Fredrik Ljungkvist.

The AALY Trio with drummer Kjell Nordeson and bassist Peter Janson in a collaboration with Ken Vandermark was documented on Hidden In The Stomach (december 1996), Stumble (january 1998), Double or Nothing (september 1999), possibly the best one (just three pieces), Live at the Glen Miller Cafe (march 1999) and I Wonder if I was Screaming (march 2000).

Pipeline (2013), containing two lengthy pieces (the 34-minute Codeine Picasso and the 30-minute In This Very Room) recorded in september 2000, featured Mats Gustafsson, (tenor sax), Ken Vandermark (clarinet and tenor sax), Fredrik Ljungkvist (clarinet, tenor and baritone saxes), Guillermo Gregorio (clarinet and alto sax), Jeb Bishop (trombone), Per-ke Holmlander (tuba), Joe Morris and David Stackens (guitars), Sten Sandell (piano), Jim Baker (ARP synthesizer and piano), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Kent Kessler and Johan Berthling (basses), Michael Zerang, Raymond Strid and Kjell Nordeson (drums, vibes and percussion).

The trio Fire with Johan Berthling (bass, guitar and organ) and drummer Andreas Werlin debuted with You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago (2009). Their second album Unreleased? (2010) added Jim O'Rourke (guitar, harmonica and synthesizer). In The Mouth - A Hand (october 2011) replaced O'Rourke with guitarist Oren Ambarchi. Exit! (january 2012) was perhaps the most ambitious yet, featuring numerous guests next to the trio of Gustafsson, Berthling and Werlin. For Without Noticing (Rune Grammofon, 2013) Gustafsson also played keyboards.

The trio Thing with Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten and Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love released: The Thing (february 2000), with Trans-love Airways (19.17), She Knows (february 2001) with trumpetist Joe McPhee, The Music Of Norman Howard (november 2001), a collaboration with Ken Vandermark's School Days, Live at Bla (june 2003), Garage (january 2004), Live At Blå (june 2003) Action Jazz (december 2005), the live Immediate Sound (april 2007), another collaboration with Ken Vandermark featuring the suite Hide Out (38 minutes), Shinkuju Crawl (october 2007), a collaboration with guitarist Otomo Yoshihide, Bag It (january 2008), that introduced live electronics, Shinjuku Growl (february 2008), a collaboration with guitarist Jim O'Rourke, Mono (2011), and The Cherry Thing (2012) with vocalist Neneh Cherry. The Thing also collaborated with the Cato Salsa Experience (a Swedish hardcore band) and Joe McPhee on Sounds Like A Sandwich (2005) and Two Bands and a Legend (2007).

Torden Kvartetten was a quartet with bassist Peter Friis Nielsen, drummer Peter Ole Jorgensen, and Per-Ake Holmlander on tuba and trombone, notably on Devil's Last Call (september 2006).

The trio Tarfala with bassist Barry Guy and drummer Raymond Strid released You Forget to Answer (july 1995), the live Tarfala (october 2006) the live Syzygy (november 2009), the live Metal (april 2001) with Barry Guy.

Collaborations included: Blues (november 2003) with guitarist David Stackenas; Critical Mass (july 2004) with pianist Agusti Fernandez; How to Raise an Ox (2005) with Italian rock trio Zu; The Vilnius Explosion (february 2008) with Lithuanian musicians; Sinners Rather than Saints (january 2009) with Barry Guy; Stones (2011) with Colin Stetson; Birds (august 2011) with guitarist John Russell and Raymond Strid; and especially Baro 101 (2012), a trio with Nilssen-Love and Mesele Asmamaw.

Gustafsson also composed chamber music, usually in multimedia contexts: Back or For-word (1989) for cello, piano, reeds, percussion, voice and video, Bortviska (1989) for large ensemble, Korpo II (1996) for tenor sax, bass and percussion, etc.

Mats Gustafsson's Correction, with Sebastian Bergstrm (piano), Joacim Nyberg (bass) and Emil strand-Melin (drums), debuted with the live Two Nights In April (april 2009) and Shift (may 2012). The Ex collaborated with Brass Unbound, i.e. the reed quartet of Mats Gustafsson (baritone sax), Ken Vandermark (saxes and clarinet), Wolter Wierbos (trombone) and Roy Paci (trumpet), for Enormous Door (2013).

Verses (march 2013) was the first duo album by Mats Gustafsson and Ken Vandermark.

Vi Ar Alla Guds Slavar/ We Are All Slaves Under God (september 2012) documents a collaboration between Mats Gustafsson and Thurston Moore.

The Thing returned with Boot! (february 2013) and Shake (june 2015).

Fake The Facts, a trio with turntablist Dieb13 (aka Dieter Kovacic) and guitarist Martin Siewert, debuted with Fake The Facts (april 2011), containing the electronic, dissonant, 22-minute Zoom; followed by Soundtrack (january 2013).

Meanwhile, Sin Gas (february 2013) documented a collaboration with Paal Nilssen-Love on congas.

The Oslo Tapes (august 2013) was a collaboration with electronic composer Lasse Marhaug.

Guds Slavar/ We Are All Slaves Under God (september 2012) documents a collaboration between Mats Gustafsson and Thurston Moore.

Gustafsson's love for large ensembles led to the Fire! Orchestra, documented on Exit (january 2012), Second Exit (september 2012) and Enter (january 2014), recorded by a 28-unit ensemble (six reeds, five brass, three keyboardists, four bassists and four drummers) and consisting of just one epic 44-minute suite.

Constellations (april 2013) documents a collaboration with pianist Agusti Fernandez.

The 5-CD/2-LP/1-DVD box-set Hidros 6 - Knockin' (Not Two, 2014) contains solo performances as well as performances by the NU ensemble and The Thing.

Merzbow (aka Masami Akita) on noise electronics, Mats Gustafsson on sax and clarinet, Thurston Moore on guitar and Balazs Pandi on drums improvised the jams of Cuts Of Guilt, Cuts Deeper (april 2014).

The NU ensemble's Hidros 6 - Knockin' (october 2013) featured Ingebrigt Hker Flaten and Jon Rune Strom on bass, Per Ake Holmlander on tuba, dieb13 on turntables, Kjell Nordeson on vibes, drums, flexatone, glockenspiel, Agusto Fernandez on piano and organ, Christer Bothen on bass clarinet and guimbri, Joe McPhee on pocket trumpet, tenor sax and space organ, Peter Evans on trumpets, Stine Janvind Motland on vocals, and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums.

Fire! returned with She Sleeps, She Sleeps (march 2015) album Johan Berthling (double bass), Oren Ambarchi (guitar), Andreas Werliin (drums, lap steel guitar) and Leo Svensson (cello).

Piano Mating (X-Ray, 2015) documents a solo performance on the vintage electronic keyboard Dubreq Pianomate.

Melt (august 2014) documents a trio with Lightning Bolt's Brian Chippendale (drums) and Zu's Massimo Pupillo (electric bass) and contains the 32-minute two-movement Faces Of Fear - Transformed - Melted.

The four-disc boxset MG 50 - Peace & Fire (october 2015) contains a series of tributes to Gustafsson by the likes of Sven-Ake Johansson, Christof Kurzmann, Guenther Christman, Paul Lovens, Thomas Lehn, The Thing & Ken Vandermark, Agusti Fernandez, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, Paal Nilssen-Love, and bagpipe player Erwan Keravec.

Gush returned with the live The March (may 2013), containing the 47-minute Barely An Instant Before The March.

The Fire! Orchestra returned with Ritual (december 2015) with a line-up including Mette Rasmussen, Jonas Kullhammar, Lotte Anker and Anna Hogberg on various saxes, Johan Berthling (bass), Per Texas Johansson (clarinets and sax), Andreas Werliin and Mads Forsby on drums, Andreas Berthling on electronics, Hild Sofie Tafjord (french horn), Finn Loxbo and Julien Desprez (guitars), Edvin Nahlin (keyboards), Martin Hederos (keyboards and violin), Mats leklint (trombone), Niklas Barno and Susana Santos Silva (trumpets), Per ke Holmlander (tuba), Mariam Wallentin and Sofia Jernberg (vocals).

The three long pieces of Collider (november 2014), particularly the 24-minute Moving Map, was recorded by Ken Vandermark's DVK Thing Trio and Mats' Gustaffson The Thing.

Falling And Five Other Failings (2016) was a collaboration with Christof Kurzmann (vocals and computers).

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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