The Squid's Ear Magazine


Gush (Gustafsson / Sandell / Strid): Afro Blue (Trost Records)

Recorded in 1998 but sounding absolutely modern, exuberant and often explosively inspired, this live recording at Jazzclub Fasching in Stockholm brings the then 10-year collaboration of drummer Raymond Strid, pianist Sten Sandel and saxophonist Mats Gustafsson to ecstatic heights, bridging free jazz forms and rendering Coltranes "Afro Blues" with intense passion.
 

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product information:

Personnel:



Mats Gustafsson-soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone

Sten Sandell-piano

Raymond Strid-drums


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UPC: 9120036683990

Label: Trost Records
Catalog ID: TROST 251CD
Squidco Product Code: 34212

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2023
Country: Austria
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Jazzclub Fasching, Stockholm, Sweeden, on December 17th, 1998, by Pawel Lucki.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Gush is the trio project of Sten Sandell, Raymond Strid and Mats Gustafsson, founded in May 1988 -- now reactivated and again touring. Free improvisation has always been the focus of the group after the initial drone experiments -- drone-based structures, with clear harmonic centers. In 2024, the members celebrate 36 years together as a group and present this live recording 25 years after it was made."-Trost "Gush is the trio project of Sten Sandell, Raymond Strid and Mats Gustafsson, founded in May 1988 -- now reactivated and again touring. Free improvisation has always been the focus of the group after the initial drone experiments -- drone-based structures, with clear harmonic centers. In 2024, the members celebrate 36 years together as a group and present this live recording 25 years after it was made."-Trost



"A 1998 live recording with drummer Raymond Strid, and pianist Sten Sandell, finds Mats Gustafsson on crisp form channelling Coltrane on peals of sparkling, snakelike riffs

Contemporary free jazz and improvisation are strangely ephemeral yet timeless. While the extemporaneous characteristics of these styles imply continuous evolution, a certain continuity at play can make a decades-old album sound just as vibrant and forward-thinking as something recorded today. Afro Blue by saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, drummer Raymond Strid, and pianist Sten Sandell - or simply GUSH - is one such record.

Originally captured live in 1998 at the Fasching club in Stockholm, the album documents GUSH at a very different stage of their career than where we find them today, yet feels just as inspirited and artistically mature as the music they've been releasing since (including 2015's The March and 2023's Kraków 2018). Formed ten years earlier, in 1988, the trio started out by playing textural, droning music inspired by the tone and timbre of the Armenian woodwind duduk. By the time the music on Afro Blue was played, they had shifted towards more traditional free jazz forms, but retained some of that tactile textural sensibility in their music.

This is clear right from the onset, as Sten Sandell assembles a series of exquisite piano progressions to open the half-hour long piece 'Behind The Chords V'. Unlike the firmer, cerebral style reminiscent of Misha Mengelberg that he came to explore with GUSH during the past decade, here his playing is nigh euphoric, occasionally touching upon the sort of rapture elicited by Keith Jarrett's seminal The Köln Concert.

When Gustafsson and Strid join him with a flow of subtle touches, their elegant contributions evoke the subdued aesthetics of Carla Bley's ensemble with Andy Sheppard and Steve Swallow. Soon enough, though, they start digressing into increasingly fervent freak-outs - met with some well-warranted whoops from the audience - fuelled by Gustafsson's emphatic phrasing, simultaneously fiery and melodic.

While Gustafsson has always been an acolyte of John Coltrane, rarely can that influence in his sound be heard so clearly as here. Whereas his style would later gravitate towards a filthier, punk-inflected grunt - especially when playing with The Thing and Fire! - here his licks are tall and crisp, soaring effervescently through high registers, snaking around Sandell's scattered chords and Strid's sparse but firm rhythmic lines.

'Behind The Chords VI' settles things down as the players begin articulating more delicate phrases. They frame disjointed, abstract shapes with moments of lovely groove, like a preview of the things that would come later in their career. Similar to the previous track, the recording, production, and mastering quality elevate the music, with each snare hit, saxophone yelp, and piano key feeling almost three-dimensional. To think that these recordings were almost lost if not for Standell's project of digitising his archive!

Meanwhile, the titular 'Afro Blue' overflows with emotion. The piece unfolds like a cover of Coltrane's rendition of the composition rather than Mongo Santamaría's original jazz standard. At times, the fervour with which GUSH play comes eerily close to the transcendent harmony of Coltrane with McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones. Gustafsson is particularly on fire here, ripping affecting leads that skip over Sandell's start-stop lines and Strid's skittering drum patterns. It would have made sense to end the album here, in these moments of ecstasy and amidst a burst of free jazz chaos, but instead the trio see things out with 'Improvisation 2 (After the Chords)', a soothing nightcap of calm balladry."-Antonio Poscic, The Quietus


Get additional information at The Quietus

Artist Biographies

"Born 1964 in Umeå, Northern Sweden.Saxplayer, improviser and composer. Solo artist and international tours and projects with a.o. Sonic Youth, Merzbow, Jim O´Rourke, Barry Guy, Otomo Yoshihide, Yoshimi, Ken Vandermark and in working groups The Thing, FIRE!, Gush, Boots Brown, Swedish Azz and Fake (the facts). Large ensemble work with Barry Guy New Orchestra,FIRE! Orchestra and the NU - ensemble.over 1800 concerts and over 200 record productions in Europe, Australia, Africa, North & South America and Asia.Collaborations with contemporary dance, theater, art, poetry as well as projects with noise, electronica, contemporary rock and free jazz.Discaholic - running the discaholic corner website.Producer of international festivals and concert tours as well as work with own record labels Slottet, OlofBright Editions and Blue Tower Records."-Mats Gustafsson Website (http://matsgus.com/archives/category/bio)
2/26/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Composer / musician / producer - piano, organ, voice, electronics,Sound/Text/Image Real-Time Composer, Doctor of Philosophy In Fine Arts in Musical Performance and Interpretation, University of Gothenburg, 2013

Cooperation with musicians/composers including Emil Strandberg, Paal Nilssen-Love, Sverrir Gudjonsson, Johan Berthling, Evan Parker, Sven-Åke Johansson, Chris Cutler, Mats Persson, Sofia Jernberg, Carl-Axel Dominique, Mats Gustafsson, Nina de Heney and Raymond Strid. Music Inside the Language was winner of Contemporary Sound in 2011 of the Journal Contemporary Music. Music and visual arts, including Bo Samuelsson, Katarina Eismann, Inger Arvidsson. Music and dance, including Jukka Korpi, Ingrid Olterman, Bo Arenander, Anne Külper. Music and Drama including Fredrik Nyberg, Magnus Florin, Magnus Jacobsson, Willy Kyrklund, Karl Dunér, Rolf Skoglund, Peter Oskarson, Stina Ekblad and Jörgen Gassilewski.

Sten Sandell was awarded the Royal Academy of Music's Jazz Award in 2012 with the motivation: "The pianist Sten Sandell is one of Swedish improvised music's most brilliant, captivating and independent voices. His musical activities are characterized by a strong artistic integrity, and he has with great consistency developed a characteristic aesthetic attitude that inspires countless musicians. " "

-Sten Sandell Website (http://stensandell.com/cv.php?l=e)
2/26/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.
"Raymond Strid (born 1956 in Stockholm, Sweden) is a Swedish drummer in the genre of free jazz and the new European improvised music.When Strid picked up drumming, he was inspired by musicians like Han Bennink, Paul Lytton, and Tony Oxley. He started his musical career relatively late. His debut concert was in September 1977, after first playing with a variety of local bands in Stockholm. In 1988 he founded the 'GUSH' trio together with saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and the pianist Sten Sandell. Since that time Strid has played in a series of bands and projects, such as in the trio Guy/Gustafsson/Strid, Marilyn Crispell/Anders Jormin/Raymond Strid and the Free Jazz trio LSB with Fredrik Ljungkvist and Johan Berthling. In 2000 he initiated 'The Electrics' with Axel Dörner, Sture Ericson and Ingebrigt Flaten. The same year Strid joined the Barry Guy New Orchestra. Strid played at numerous festivals of free improvisation in Europe and North America. He also teaches in musical improvisation."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Strid)
2/26/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



1. Behind The Chords V 27:25

2. Behind The Chords VI 18:56

3. Afro Blue 19:33

4. Improvisation 2 (Behind The Chords) 2:21

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Jazz
Free Improvisation
European Improvisation, Composition and Experimental Forms
Trio Recordings
Mats Gustafsson
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
New in Improvised Music
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Trost Records.


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