New From Smalltown Superjazzz

Smalltown Superjazzz is a newish label featuring, among many others, Ken Vandermark, Mats Gustafsson, and members of Sonic Youth.


Thurston Moore – Guitar
Jim O’ Rourke – Synth
Mats Gustafsson – Saxophones and live-electronics

Diskaholics Anonymous Trio is Thurston Moore and Jim O’Rourke from Sonic Youth and the Swedish free jazz icon Mats Gustafsson. The album was recorded live at Ystads Teater, Sweden, October 6. 2002. The mix and postproduction was done by O`Rourke. With Thurston Moore on guitars, Jim O`Rourke on synth and Mats Gustafsson on sax, the trio creates a pulsing, massive and monumental sound. Free-jazz, noise, electronic ambience, Tony Conrad 60`s style loft-minimalism, drone music and punk all mixed. The result of these three titans clashing together is an intense blow-out. Raw, grandiose and brutally beautiful.

The trio released their first self titled album in 2001 on Crazy Wisdom/Universal. Weapons of Ass Destruction, their second album, will be released worldwide on Smalltown Superjazzz (the free jazz/avant/noise imprint of Smalltown Supersound). Mats Gustafsson has previously worked with Sonic Youth, when he wrote the piece “Hidros 3” exclusively for them, something which lead to the release with the same title on Smalltown Supersound. Gustafsson has also played with the band live many times and has worked with Jim O’Rourke since the mid-nineties, when he became a central part of the Chicago jazz scene.


With their third album, Garage, The Thing got acclaim from as different medias as DJ Magazine, Uncut (4 stars), BBC and The Observer. Not bad for a free jazz album. This is the first live document from this sensational trio. The Thing mixes the free jazz ecstasy with the garage rock intensity. And with no electricity, only wood and brass (reeds, bass and drums), they make a hell of a noise, and the album is explosion of energy (the photo on the front cover is taken right after the gig). The album was recorded live at The Thing and Smalltown Supersound`s “home” venue, Blå, in Oslo.

The Thing was established in the spring of February 2000 when the three musicians met to play several concerts and to record the first CD on Crazy Wisdom, a sub label of Swedish Universal. In 2001, they also recorded another CD on the same label as a quartet with Joe McPhee. Both CD´s are out of print. There is also a limited edition LP on Anagram records, where the trio collaborates with the members of School Days, playing tunes by Norman Howard. The trio was a long wanted constellation where several musical styles meet in a very high energetic outlet. All members are influenced by different traditions of free music derived from both Europe and America. When the trio started out, the book contained mainly of tunes by Don Cherry. Since Joe McPhee`s participation, the group’s repertoire has included other free jazz standards by Butch Morris, Charles Tyler, Frank Lowe and Norman Howard. Also, the group´s enthusiasm towards rock came clear on the second CD, where “To Bring You My Love” by PJ Harvey was played with very heavy spirit. Today, the book has expanded to include tunes by The White Stripes, The Sonics and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This is just an example that shows how close musical styles are today, how similar the energy is and can be, and how much today`s audience is melted together, devoted to creative music. The Thing´s music can easily be described as “garage jazz”, where the raw power, filthy sound and fury of garage rock, is expressed through the directness of the spiritual energy and emotions one finds in free jazz.

Mats Gustafsson is today Sweden’s and one of Europe’s biggest name on the free music scene. Through groups like Gush, Peter Brötzmann`s Chicago Tentet and collaborations with Sonic Youth and David Grubbs, he has established himself as a very powerful saxophonist, and has somewhat reinvented the way of playing the saxophone. Ingebrigt HÃ¥ker Flaten and Paal Nilssen-Love has become known as Norway`s heaviest rhythm-section. Since they`re long time collaboration started in 1992, they have been working in several groups which today also includes School Days with Ken Vandermark, Scorch trio with Raoul Björkenheim, and the Swedish/Norwegian jazz-group Atomic. The Thing does collaborate with Joe McPhee today and in future, on special occasions.


The trio Free Fall was organized by bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, reedist Ken Vandermark, and pianist Haavard Wiik in 2001 as an opportunity to work together in a chamber music environment without percussion. Inspired in part by Jimmy Giuffre’s classic group with Paul Bley and Steve Swallow, the group quickly found its own way of working with velocity, space, sound and time, after it first met. The trio has always only performed their original compositions, and released its first album of this material, called “Furnace,” to great acclaim in 2002. The album was released on Mac`s (of the punkrock group Superchunk) jazz label, Wobbly Rail (an imprint of Merge Records).

After playing in Europe and the United States, Free Fall went back into the studio during November, 2004, to record its second album, this time for the Norwegian label Smalltown Superjazzz. Entitled “Amsterdam Funk,” the new album highlights the development of communication and compositional strategies by the band over the last few years. In addition, the recording includes freely improvised performances for the first time. On the tour previous to these studio sessions the band used pure improvisations as their encores, and it made a good deal of sense to include Free Fall’s approach to this kind of material on “Amsterdam Funk” as it represents a parallel and equally powerful way of performing by the trio.


Just after having released their critically acclaimed new album “Garage”, The Thing teams up with their old friend Joe McPhee and Norwegian garage rockers Cato Salsa Experience. The meeting between The Thing and Cato Salsa Experience started at the Kongsberg Jazzfestival in Norway last year, when The Thing was offered the chance to invite their favourite rock band Cato Salsa Experience, for a special collaboration. This mini album is recorded live at Kongsberg Jazzfestival. The concert was such a big success that the bands decided to both tour and to record an album together. The album will be released late in the autumn 2005 on Smalltown Superjazzz.

In the meantime check out this sandwich containing 2 tracks written by Cato Salsa Experience, Led Zeppelin`s “Whole Lotta Love”, Yeah Yeah Yeahs` “Artstar” (which The Thing also did on their Garage album) as well as Don Ayler`s beautiful “Our Prayer”. The result is pure magic. The energy from both the the audience and the bands is unbelievable. The two bands perfectly blends the 1960`s raw garage rock and the free jazz movement from the same period, and creates the perfect fusion. A match made in heaven.

The Thing has earlier released an album with the 66 year old free jazz legend Joe McPhee titled “She Knows” on Carzy Wisdom/Universal. The Thing is now out with “Garage” and album that has received great critical acclaim from among others The Observer, The Independent, Sunday Times, Uncut, Straight No Chaser, Vice Magazine, Jazzwise and Mojo.

Cato Salsa Experience has released 2 albums, “The Fruit Is Still Fresh” and “A Good Tip For A Good Time”, both released on Garalda Records in Europe, Emperor Norton Records in US and on Sony in Japan. They band are currently working on their third album due summer 2005.