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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Barry Guy/Mats Gustafsson/Raymond Strid - Tarfala (Maya, 2008) ****

Raw power, pure energy, free adventure, channeled and controlled music is what you get on this live recording from a performance at Culturen Västerås, Sweden, 2006, by bassist Barry Guy, saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and percussionist Raymond Strid. But more importantly, the trio does it together, extremely close together. You will hear things here that you will have rarely heard, going deep, especially in the middle of the title track. Listen how the trio moves from very "vertical" staccato percussive musical note-dropping to an almost instantaneous outburst of long notes, pizzi to arco, and long wailing sounds on the sax, then slowly bass and drums start propulsing the tune forward, increasing the rhythmic intensity ... then some soft notes and the whole thing falls into silence for some hesitating solo sax tones, and the two other musicians follow suite in a very sensitive subdued fashion, barely disturbing silence, ending in some fluttering sounds, strongly driven by Guy's bass. The second track is quieter, more contemplative at moments, with some squeaking sounds explorations for a short term, yet moving back to silence, as if a flock of birds were disturbed and calmed again. "Icefall", the third track, is again sufficiently lengthy to allow for broad sound explorations, starting with unrelenting power play, then slowing down and even coming close to a melodic approach, with a subtle and sensitive finale. In the last track, Gustafsson switches to baritone sax, going low and deep, while Guy by contrast goes more regularly into the high notes on his bass. This piece, although it starts with pointillistic splatters, evolves into somehting fierce and violent and it is a great closer for this excellent free performance. And even the musicians enjoyed the result.

Mats Gustafsson describes it as follows : "I have no idea what we were eating and drinking that day in Lennart Nilsson's rockin' and dynamic club in the old industrial town of Västerås, but for sure there was a different kind of music coming out of our instruments that night! Listening back to it makes me wanna dance, scream and fly (all at once, of course) The flow, the flooooow and the brutal energy of the music just makes me smile (and I tell you, listening back to my own music usually doesn't make me wanna smile that often), and smile for a long time."

And smile he should.