Sunday, September 11, 2016

Mats Gustafsson and Friends - MG50 Peace and Fire (Trost, 2016)

The great saxophonist Mats Gustafsson has been a pillar of the free jazz and improvisation scene worldwide for decades now. In the tradition of John Zorn, he celebrates the milestone of his fiftieth birthday with a series of concerts with his friends and colleagues preserved for posterity here on this four disc set. Some of the groups on this box are Gustafsson's most lauded bands like the wide-open free jazz, avant rock, fusion and beyond group Fire!, The Thing, which originally began as a Don Cherry tribute, before developing into one of the most exciting jazz trios and also Swedish Azz, a tribute to the best jazz musicians that Sweden has produced. Some of the people represented on this collection make up a who's who of modern free jazz like Sven-Ake Johansson, Anna Högberg, Ken Vandermark, Agustí Fernández, Sofia Jernberg, Erwan Keravec, Christof Kurzmann and many more. The box set also includes two lengthy booklets of musical commentary and biography. The music is of very high quality throughout and Gustafsson is very generous in allowing his friends to have quite a bit of the limelight, showing that his role as an enabler is one of his most important traits. He is able to develop groups and bring people together, acting as a catalyst for the modern free jazz music scene. The width and breadth of the music presented here is very impressive and shows how Gustafsson's musical interests range from post-rock to free jazz and beyond. Mg50: Peace and Fire -

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