Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Colin Stetson & Mats Gustafsson: Stones

Colin Stetson (alto, bass sax)
Mats Gustafsson (tenor, baritone sax)
Stones (Rune Grammofon; 2012)

This is an unbelievable meeting of two enigmatic performers and composers on the avant garde scene at the moment. Mats Gustafsson and Colin Stetson have been stamping their imprint on the jazz for well over a decade now. Their first ever collaboration is the probably the best way to experience it--live!

Stones presents a sheer blizzard of sound with a slow building and haunting overture on "Stones That Rest Heavily." Gustafsson and Stetson exchange passages of long drags and bellowing echoes that are tugboats moving through cavernous space. Sound bounces back and forth, all around.

"Stone That Can Only Be" has humour but also a small hint of blues passes through in some notes. Almost unrecognizable, but the movements are encompassing and enjoyable. "Stones That Only Have" feels like a piece from Stetson's recent New History Warfare II, if it weren't for Gustafsson breaking the door down. The battle that engulfs the second half of the piece is sublime.

This is a unique and fiery date that may not appeal to everyone. But if you are fan of both Colin Stetson and Mats Gustafsson, Stones is one of the best collaborations in improvised music you'll hear this year.

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