Mats Gustafsson: Needs!, Mats G Plays Albert A

Two very different solo albums from Swedish saxophone improviser Mats Gustafsson, each of them showcasing a particular aspect of his work. Gustafsson is that rare thing, an improviser whose presence has impinged upon a much wider consciousness than that of the tight-knit jazz and improv community. Collaborations with avant rock hotshots like Jim O’Rourke and Thurston Moore have given his name a certain cachet of cool, while – more significantly, in my view – he was recently awarded the prestigious Nordic Council Music Prize. He’s best known as a brawny, immensely physical player of the tenor and baritone sax, always clad in a tight T-shirt drenched with sweat, his face reddening and veins fit to burst as he gleefully expands on the musical vocabulary of Albert Ayler and Peter Brötzmann. Exemplified by his membership of groups like The Thing and the all-reeds trio Sonore, this is for my money his most intense and rewarding mode of activity. But he’s also increasingly fond of live electronics and electro-acoustic improv, something that comes to the fore on Needs!

Continue reading