Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Thing - Bag It! (Smalltown Superjazz, 2009)

Leading lights of Scandinavian free jazz with a name conjuring up thoughts of 1950's B-Grade horror films, The Thing is made up of MatsGustafsson on tenor saxophone, Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten on bass and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums. Although they originally came together to honor the work of musical polymath Don Cherry, they quickly expanded their repertoire to include other jazz legends and punk rock songs as well as original compositions. This album is a two disc set that includes a relatively even mix of original blowing vehicles, jazz and rock covers. "Hidegen Fujnak A Szelek" opens strong with cacophonous improvisation melding melding high energy free jazz to in your face punk rock. "Drop the Gun" was quite interesting, a performance in two parts, starting with a straight up free jazz collective improvisation with the group getting a boisterous sound. The song them evolves into a free-noise experiment with Gustafsson adding buzzing electronics that cast a unearthly pall over the proceedings. Albert Ayler's composition "Angels" is a compelling performance that takes the group into another direction still. Spare and mournful, the music the group conceives hints at the ancient spirituals that originally inspired Ayler, while moving into a haunting and emotional textural terrain. "Beef Brisket" is a thirty minute jam included on a bonus disc, which moves suite-like between dissonant all out playing and huskier spacey sections. It is interesting to hear the group trying to expand their palette with the use of electronics and different types of textural structures. Although their original reputation was built on harsh and rowdy performances, it is clear that this band is more then just a group of sonic extremists, but rather a trio that is trying to push the boundaries of improvised music in several directions.
Bag It -

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