Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gordon Grdina Trio with Mats Gustafsson - Barrel Fire [Drip Audio]

Barrel Fire

Gordon Grdina - guitar, oud
Mats Gustafsson - saxophone
Tommy Babin - bass
Kenton Loewen - drums

Drip Audio 2010

Here's another one for those amongst You who like it when free jazz rocks. And it rocks hard. With music getting pretty crazy, but always driving forward thanks to the relentless work of rhythm section.

This is pretty simple and fun, always very sincere (punk is not dead :). Gordon shredds his guitar strings a lot, gritty bass and drums chase each other and saxophone sharpens the raw edges. "Burning Bright" features a great theme that somehow reminds me of Ayler's march, and it serves well as driving vehicle for the ensemble improvisation. "229" after a short percussion intro and a fast, rhythmic, punk guitar-riff turns to sax trio setting, with the rhythmic section providing a hard swinging like hell backbone! (check the crazy pace of bass walking), riff comes back again and Mats backs off leaving space for Gordon and a fiery solo. His sound on guitar is quite intriguing, bit like classic swing guitar with a lot of distortion to it and he puts some nice twists into speeding lines. Track ends with bass solo (nice drive to it), which ends up suddenly, quite inconclusive*.
"Enshakoota" (trad. Iraqi piece) features Gordon on oud and starts with solo introduction on this instrument, introducing lighter, quite gentle and exotic shades to the music. When the band joins the piece gets into this hypnotic loop - ethnic rhythm, simple background and choral 'ai ya ye' would make it a hit on some tribal dance party. And while You're dancing around the fire Gustafsson joins on saxophone, adding some spiritual playing, with passionate tone, full of internal vibrations, that is so much his own but also reminds You about some of the greatest in free music (David S. Ware, Peter Brotzmann, John Coltrane, Albert Ayler). And when he gets more intense the band leaves him alone, as he gradually cools down (once again I have a feeling that this improvisation has been cut). The final piece - "Barrell Fire", that gives its title to the album, is my favourite on the album, with energetic riff introduced unisono by Mats and Gordon, great rock punch-line on the level of some of the best riff-lines that I love so much in Vandermark V .

All compositions have a nice kick and the playing is a lot of fun to listen, nice to hear Mats in some composed context again (doesn't happen so often) and it feels also that he awakens some inner freeq beasts in trio's players as their step it up and outside of their comfort zone. Drive fast and have fun could be easily the motto. While it doesn't have the ferocious energy of The Thing or Full Blast (totally unjust to expect anyone to match those levels but Mats' presence somehow puts those comparisons in my mind) and I'd like them to go bit more mayhem at times, it still delivers the goods and makes for a pretty exciting listen. Plus it reminds of my teens when (me being a rock fana at those times) good riff and nice guitar solo was all I needed.

* in fact there have been some edits. You can find more details and listen to the first track of the album on the labels' page.

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