First pressing of 500, includes CD.Titles inspired by Gunnar Ekelof (1907 - 1968)
May come as a surprise, but in the history of jazz and improvisation the saxophone duet is remarkably rare. Sax players tend to lock horns with drummers, bassists, trumpeters, even cellists and violinists, but rarely with each other. Perhaps it’s the force of personality that the sax is associated with: this studio ain’t big enough for the both of us.
But here to blow that convention out of the water come two of the planet’s most uncompromising and inventive young hornithologists, Colin Stetson and Mats Gustafsson. Mats Gustafsson, a Swede born in 1964, has perfected the art of the vein-popping, no-compromise blowout, and has appeared with Sonic Youth, Jim O’Rourke, Boredoms’ Yoshimi P-We, improvising legends Derek Bailey, Joe McPhee, Peter Brötzmann and Ken Vandermark.
His own free jazz power trio The Thing recently released the acclaimed Cherry Thing album with Neneh Cherry; while his Fire! trio with Johan Berthling and Andreas Werliin have released three CDs already on Rune Grammofon. He has also worked extensively in other media, including dance, painting, theatre and poetry.
Colin Stetson is a member of Arcade Fire’s touring group, and his prodigious bass saxophone tones have been called on by a host of American alternative acts including Bon Iver, Tom Waits, Laurie Anderson, TV On The Radio, David Byrne, Feist, My Brightest Diamond, LCD Soundsystem and many more. He was born in Michigan and is currently based in Montreal, Canada, where he recorded his latest solo album, New History Warfare Vol 2: Judges for local label Constellation.
The four tracks on Stones were recorded live on stage at the 2011 Vancouver Jazz Festival. Miraculously, this explosive encounter was also their first meeting. ‘It was completely magic,” remembers Mats. ‘All was there, the communication, the interaction, the music, the mystery...’ The titles were partly inspired by the Swedish poet Gunnar Ekelöf (1907–1968), of whom Mats says, ‘He is the foundation of Swedish modern poetry.
There is so much music in the way he constructs his work. It is extremely inspiring, on all levels. Ekelöf is the man.’ From the long throaty drones that open ‘Stones That Rest Heavily’ to the slithering and flutter-tonguing interplay of ‘Stones That Need Not’, it’s clear that this duo is intent on alchemising their brass tubes into liquid gold. But they mainly use low-end instruments like the bass and baritone sax, which emit deep, warm vibrations. And unlike the more in your face free improvisation, there’s an underlying tunefulness that draws you in and envelops you. ‘Colin is playing songs,’ says Mats, ‘and I love that... real songs with great structures and directions! The song quality is still there... but he freakin’ rocks in the way he interacts and improvises.’
This is fire music that smoulders in the dark. Perhaps this will give the sax duo a new lease of life. After all, as Mats says, there’s ‘No escape... nothing to hide... you just need to go out there and interact!’
1. Stones That Rest Heavily
2. Stones That Can Only Be
3. Stones That Need Not
4. Stones That Only Have