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December 2005

The Mats/Morgan Band
Thanks for Flying With Us
Cuneiform Records

Swedish multi-instrumentalists Mats Oberg and Morgan Agren mix funky, groove-oriented influences with aspects of trance, rock, jam band and 4/4 jazz on Thanks for Flying With Us. The 16-track CD contains studio and live cuts, and the best pieces are those where East and Western elements share space. These cuts include "Allan in the Rain" where Turkish reed player Ismet Demirhan's whirling, emphatic playing on the zurna (a double-reed instrument) elevates an otherwise good but unspectacular arrangement. By comparison, both the band and soloist Johan Soderkvis on klaviharp (a combination cembalo and clavinet) are animated and energized during "Softma."

Oberg is a fine harmonica player and good keyboardist, while Agren's best work comes on drums. Guitarist/bassist Jimmy Agren brings a dynamic style to his accompaniment and his lead playing, while bassist Tommy Tordsson and multi-instrumentalist Robert Elovsson (keyboards, clarinet, voice) provide additional coloration. Still, what's most impressive and interesting about the Mats/Morgan Band is its cohesion. The group makes music that works on a cerebral and an emotional level.

Originally published in December 2005
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