Sep.28, 2020

at last…. in print again:





legendary 2nd release by the thing on the Crazy Wisdom label!


just released by Hat Hut records on their ezz thetics serie of free jazz


remastered by Peter Pfister.



the first review – in DUSTED:


One third Swedish, Two thirds Norwegian, The Thing added a fourth part Poughkeepsian in the formidable form of Joe McPhee for its sophomore album, She Knows… in 2001. The trio’s chosen sobriquet sourced from a Don Cherry composition of the same name, a second choice since their first, Trans Love Airways, was already spoken for by another Swedish group with no love lost. The disc was the sixth release on a label run by saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, he the Swedish contingent, and two colleagues. It swiftly attracted accolades as a provocative composite of free jazz lucidity with punk rock-inspired energy before abruptly falling out of print.

Eighteen-years on (damn, has it been that long?!?!) enters Swiss producer Werner X. Uehlinger’s Ezz-thetics imprint, an enterprise expressly designed to reissue classics of the free jazz idiom. Combine that good fortune with a fresh remaster by in-house audio engineering savant, Peter Pfister, and an old new classic gets a new lease on circulation and appreciation. McPhee’s presence on the project isn’t just in guest capacity, he’s a full-fledged honorary member. His signature “Old Eyes” caps the program and his sensibilities align in fervent fraternal fashion with Gustafsson, bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love.

The album begins with, of all things, a P.J. Harvey cover and a rasp-saturated invocation from McPhee’s pocket trumpet (another nod to the band’s namesake). Gustafsson honks simple counterpoint as bass and drums lock and release in a loping dirge-like groove. “The Thing” is concentrated, vamp-actuated freebop, and Håker Flaten’s elastic improvisation is the first instance where a significant Pfister-facilitated boost is audible in the offing. Deep crate selections by James Blood Ulmer (“Baby Talk”), Ornette Coleman (“Kathelin Gray”) and perhaps most rewardingly Frank Lowe (“For Real”) follow with the players digging ardently and assiduously into each opportunity.

On the Ulmer piece, Håker Flaten plugs in for a flanging effect that coupled to Nilssen-Love’s cascading beats takes on dub-like malleability McPhee, again on pocket trumpet, and Gustafsson on tenor saxophone fire off crenelated Aylerian salvos in tandem and independently that ride the oleaginous waves. The traditional spiritual “Going Home” contrasts, starting from space of simmering arco bass laced reflection and gaining grandeur through McPhee’s sanctified tenor sermon. Gustafsson enters and two trade improvisations in an exchange that can’t help but feel truncated given the glorious amount of pathos and power brought to bear. It’s beyond good to have this one back.

Derek Taylor