Gush: Norrkoping

Gush is Mats Gustafsson (reeds), Sten Sandell (piano) and Raymond Strid (drums), a Scandinavian free-improvising trio that’s been around since the late ’80s. It’s clear from this recording that they’ve learned a thing or two in their time together. On three very long improvisations (the shortest lasting nearly 14 minutes) the three seem to follow effortlessly each other’s most unexpected or volatile moves. Sandell matches Gustafsson’s milder moments with single-note lines and small figures at the extreme ends of the keyboard. When Gustafsson inevitably erupts, he responds with throbbing, dense chords repeated over and over again. Strid gives the music a thrust without spelling out the beat or trying to overpower the other two. He meets every jab and punch from Gustafsson and Sandell with a felicitous gesture.

Gustafsson must collect horns like NBA players collect cars-he brings six of them to the session. His sound, made from a staggering range of extended technique deployed with remarkable control, is a familiar one to fans of modern improvisation. This is a collaborative venture, however, and all three players know their place in each other’s impromptu script. Only the long third act, with its pauses and slow start, breaks this band’s recording-long run of quality.