The Thing's releases for Oslo-based label Smalltown Superjazz come with poetic descriptions of their raw strain of free jazz. After the aptly-named Garage (Smalltown Superjazz, (2004) and Action Jazz (Smalltown Superjazz, 2006) this new album borrows its title from Ken Vandermark's celebrated series at the Chicago Hideout club. It was recorded live on the first anniversary of Vandermark's series last April, and it was the first time that The Thing and Vandermark had performed together in the US.
The four musicians have played together regularly for more than a decade, in so many bands and incarnations (among them AALY trio, School Days, Peter Brötzmann's Chicago Tentet and Vandermark's Territory Bands, Free Fall and his duos with Nilssen-Love), that their level of communication is impressive. As the title suggests, this live recording offers burning and vibrant immediacy, flowing with power and energy, telepathic interplay and exemplary muscular, though not necessarily masculine, dynamics.
You can feel the shared commitment to explore and push forward the musical envelope, and the joy when they lock into a new theme, as Gustafsson and Nilssen-Love do on their tight duel on the end of the first part, or the methodical building of a new theme by Flaten on the second part.It continues with lyrical playing from Vandermark on the third part and then transforms into a percolating saxophone duel between Gustafsson and Vandermark, where Vandermark injects some funky riffs. Then it all reaches its inevitable climax on the fourth and last part, where Vandermark and Gustafsson, together on baritone saxophones, begin with a busy and nervous dialogue, that becomes bluesy when Flaten and Nilssen-Love join in, but ultimately explodes into an electrifying and spirited maelstrom.