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GUSH - Afro Blue

You're a musician and unsure whether you can call yourself prolific?

Well, if one of your projects is a thirty-six years old trio, which can unearth a twenty-five year old DAT tape of a live recording you've almost forgotten about and it's a Coltrane worshipping masterpiece - then you probably are rather prolific.

Enter Mats Gustafsson, Sten Sandel and Raymond Strid!

GUSH - Afro Blue (CD) (2024)

Mentioning John Coltrane above is probably me being Captain Obvious, since "Afro Blue", a Jazz standard by Mongo Santamaria, has famously been popularized by his quartet. But before the saxophone/piano/drums trio even gets to the rendition of this classic, there are already three quarters of an hour of improvised music "Behind The Chords", coming in two giant packages.

Given how round and full the sound of the recording is you can easily forget the quite unusual factor that the band doesn't even have a bass player, which is mostly substituted by Sandell's piano performance, but in part also by Gustafsson, even though he's on soprano and tenor sax here and doesn't even serve those lower pitches. But the fullness of their interplay makes the sound more than complete.

Except when it's not supposed to be complete. Because at times Gush can be very abstract, loose, percussive and minimal, which makes the return to full Spiritual Jazz glory all the more grand.

The twenty-minutes take on "Afro Blue" applies the same characteristics, commandingly introducing the iconic theme, before receding and swelling on their own paths, before victoriously returning to the eve. What else is there to be said: If a band succesfully injects an immortal tune like this with their own identity and the sound is as perfect as here, what's there not to love?

The show ends surprisingly compact and very quiet with a two-minute improvisation "After The Chords". Just a little dose of almost Ambient Jazz to come back down after the spectacle before.

What a wonderful live album, all almost seventy minutes of it!

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