Mats Gustafsson

Windows: The Music of Steve Lacy

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What a pleasant surprise! The Swedish multi-reed maestro, he of the coruscatingly wild fluteophone attacks, turns to the relatively calm and linear world of Steve Lacy and finds a very happy medium in this solo release. While he treats Lacy's deadpan and deceptively simple melodies with clear respect, he uses them as jumping off points for his own idiosyncratic deconstructions. On "Deadline," he navigates into a territory of ultra-soft percussive clicks and taps, creating a fascinating spatial field before tiptoeing back to the theme. Gustafsson is not averse to approaches that might strike the Lacy aficionado as sacrilegious, such as transforming his "Prospectus" into a drone piece for baritone sax. Lest any of these stances seem too outré, Lacy himself provides very appreciative liner notes for the project and, in any case, Gustafsson can quell any criticism with his gorgeous reading of "Retreat," a heartbreakingly lovely, shakuhachi-like song. He also makes the inspired choice of covering Cecil Taylor's "Louise" (a composition that Lacy often performed while a member of the pianist's early bands) and contributes two lovely investigations of his own: the fluttery, percolating title track (for fluteophone, a flute with a sax mouthpiece) and the closing, bubbly "Outline." Windows is an important step in Gustafsson's career, evidencing a mature combination of technical prowess, conceptual rigor, and sublimated passion. Highly recommended.

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