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På skive



The legendary Swedish free improvising trio GUSH – pianist Sten Sandell, drummer Raymond Strid and sax player Mats Gustafsson – was born in May 1988. Gustafsson tells that Sandel and Strid invited him for a a special project of playing drone-related music inspired by Armenian duduk master Dzjivan Gasparjan and insisted that he would play the soprano sax. Since that project, there was «no way to stop that train (trane)».

GUSH is going to celebrate its 36th anniversary in 2024 with new performances and hopefully new recordings. But until then, GUSH offers a historic treat, a live recording at the famous Stockholm jazz venue Fasching from December 1988 titled after the Mongo Santamaria tune, which John Coltrane famously made his own, and the GUSH’s 19-minute version suggests another bold transformation of the piece. Strid found these recordings on a cassette tape while transferring music to hard drives on his advanced sound system at his home in Heby. Sandell had the original DAT recordings and Martin Siewert worked in his genius manner through the mastering process.

Gustafsson adds that there is «no reason to be nostalgic and sentimental though. We all need to move on. Always and forever. The future is in front of us. The turntable is spinning». Afro-Blue captures this supergroup in top form, searching and exploring, sharing ideas and exploding. This performance begins with Sandell’s two-part «Behind the Chords V» and «Behind the Chords VI» suite that cements the slow-cooking, powerful and profound free jazz dynamics of the trio at that time, including a spectacular drum solo of Strid, and a lyrical introduction to its second part. The cover of «Afro-Blue» has its own kind of spiritual, intoxicating power with a few inspired solos of Gustafsson, who evokes Coltrane’s uplifting solos, and Sandell, who deconstructs and reconstructs the melody in his own stormy way. This Performance is closed with a brief, subtle and quiet improvisation.

Indispensable gem.

Eyal Hareuveni

Mats Gustafsson (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone), Sten Sandell (piano), Raymond Strid (drums)