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Albums by The Thing

2010-05-11 by Andrey Henkin

Review of "Bag It" on Allaboutjazz.com

One of the most appealing facets of The Thing - saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love - is the visceral experience of seeing them play live. Huddled closely on stage, wearing matching Ruby's BBQ of Austin t-shirts, dripping with sweat and manhandling their instruments, the trio is one of the modern wonders of avant-garde jazz.

The band, with Gustafsson solely on tenor instead of the expected baritone, headlined a bill at Brooklyn's Zebulon last month with local monstrosities Sparks and Little Women, the second gig of a 15-show North American tour in support of Bag It!, their 11th release and eighth for the Norwegian Smalltown Superjazzz label. The 45-minute set was given over to three versions of the album's title track and featured the priceless quote from Gustafsson: "It's a real pleasure to play, trying to nail this Bag It! piece, but always failing." Joining the group for two of the three attempts was longtime collaborator Joe McPhee on second tenor. The versions resolved into two Thing favorites, "Baby Talk" by James Blood Ulmer and Lightning Bolt's "Ride the Sky," before the group closed out the evening with McPhee's "Alien."

But the one problem with The Thing thus far has been that almost none of their albums effectively captured the live experience. 2005's Garage came close and 2006's Action Jazz even closer but not until Bag It! has the band's ferocity been depicted so well in a studio environment. Some of the credit must be given to engineer Steve Albini, of Big Black fame, who highlights the trio's punk aesthetic with spacious recording that does not sacrifice their 'gentler' moments. And Smalltown Superjazzz's stark design - primarily black and white pictures of the band performing at Ruby's - is fittingly bleak.

Besides the Gustafsson-penned title track and the collective "Hot Doug," the rest of the first disc of the double CD set continues the group's ...

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http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=32902

Source: Allaboutjazz.com

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