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Mats-Morgan (Band) - Heat Beats Live / Tourbook 1991-2007 CD (album) cover

HEAT BEATS LIVE / TOURBOOK 1991-2007

Mats-Morgan (Band)

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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4 stars Mats/Morgan Band new release is a great compilation of some of their most recent concerts, between 2005 and 2007, with some of their habitual bandmates, including Tommy Tordson on bass and Simon Steensland. The performances range from the solo to the quintet, from acoustic to electric, from great compositions to crazy improvisations, so you can appreciate the wide spectrum of their music. Moreover, this compilation includes a DVD by Morgan Agren, so newcomers to the band can understand where they come from and, for non beginners, discover the origins and previous incarnations of one of the most interesting bands of the moment

The album has a great start with "The Return of Advokaten", this time with a clear jazzy flavour on the beginning, very different to other versions of the song, but with the same crazyness throughout it. You can compare it with The Bösendorfer of Advokaten, much more experimental, to realize how inventive they are and how they can, like many master musicians, reinterpret their music in such different ways without being repetitive.

"Rhinecliff Hotel" is one of my favourite cuts, because I am very fond of their duo acoustic sets. Quite jazzy set with Mats Öberg on grand piano, very interesting, and far from their bombastic improvisations, for example the extended version of "Mats Jingle", mainly a drum solo with background keyboards, a piece where Morgan Agren displays all his energies. The duo format will appear later on the record in Watch Me Pleasure, this time with Mats Öberg on keyboards on a typical semi improvised song, quite different from the studio version.

"Pulse" is a very intriguing and mysterious track and, although it is highly promising, I think it is a bit too short, and I consider it only plays the role to provide the listener the opportunity to listen to the full band, with Robert Elovsson and Jimmy Agren. What a pity this is the only piece with this personnel.

The most aggressive parts of the record are represented with Tvingle and Truvas Rumba, where the band shows its most fierce playing with a brutal rhytm section and furious soloing, so you can fully appreciate the mutual understanding of the band members. Superb.

One of the curiosities of this record is the possibility to listen to Morgan Agren playing keyboards, but only in two minor studio pieces that are merely interludes, but it may be the beginning of a new dimension on his playing and maybe other developments on their future music.

The last song of the CD, "Cry of Laika", is a slow tune by Mats Öberg, soloing on keys and harmonica, with very delicate taste, and a great piece to finish the record in a very different way of their typical sets.

As far as the DVD is concerned, it is not a MATS/MORGAN BAND one, but a Morgan Agren one. I mean, you can understand a bit more the biography of the band through the biography of Morgan Agren, one of the most impressive drummers in current musical scene. It is quite interesting to watch his early performances with such a wide array of musicians, including jazz, rock, blues and classical music. As you can imagine, it is full of drum solos, even from his very beginnings. What I did not like about it is that there are too many excerpts so, at the end, it looks more as a collage than as a collection of performances. In my opinion, the best performances are those with Fredrik Thornendal and the 2007 Swedish set, from with some of the material of the CD was taken. Although I would not consider it an essential record by itself, I think it is a great idea to include it as a bonus.

MATS/MORGAN BAND become each and every day more essential to understand the most risky and unconventional side of modern music. They are highly talented as composers, but they are even better as players, and I think their music is not only addressed to those listeners interested in the most radical side of music, but also to open minded listeners who want to discover one of the most interesting band nowadays. I give this record 4 stars.

Report this review (#199301)
Posted Friday, January 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Hearing and seeing these guys playing leaves an impression, that they were actually born on stage: one behind the keyboards and another behind his drum kit. Saying that, it makes quite clear who is supposed to listen to their music. Why, those who were born on the other side of the stage of course, in the audience! It's a difficult kind of music to dig? but very rewarding.

This Swedish band makes a very intelligent, playful and bright fusion music. It's a sort of musical Pointillism, when the melody is not exposed wide open, but hided behind a lot of small points: drum strokes, bass punctures, electric sounds, etc. To make a reference point: it reminds sometimes of Weather Report, Return To Forever and Frank Zappa. All this with an unheard of drumming by Morgan Ĺgren as a total experience: artistic and prolific, intelligent and skilful. The keyboards playing by Mats Öberg reminds Joe Zawinul at his best. Amazing fact is that this guy is blind.

I have found these statements about the group on the web: "They played unbelievable, just unbelievable."- Frank Zappa. "Remarkable technical expertise and playing skills"- Bill Bruford. I completely agree with this. I would just like to add, that it is not only the technique, that enchants me, but also the composing, playing chemistry, energy, the total experience of something beautiful happening on stage, something I became a part of, even hearing this in my room. They don't need to give space to each other and to improvise on turns. Their melody lines and improvisations are like different colours, sometimes paralleling and sometimes overlapping each other, never disturbing, but supporting each other, and all together creating a beautiful musical painting. Reading their biography learns, that they indeed started to play music at a very young age. Morgan Ĺgren, for example, has been a drummer since age of four. Mats Öberg joined him in 1981, when Morgan was 14 and Mats was 10. Three years later, in 1984 they formed Zappesteetoot, a Zappa tribute band. They actually played with maestro himself, for the first time during Zappa's tour in Sweden in 1988. Later, they came to US to play with Zappas's Universe in 1991 and his Orchestra of Our Time in 1993. Read a story about one of these events by Morgan on their web site, it is quite funny. Both of them appear also on Steve Vai's live album, playing the Grammy winning song "Sofa". Over the years, they played in different bands and sets, but they always played together as well, touring a lot as Mats/Morgan band and issuing a cd once in a while.

This issue contains a live CD, compiled from songs played during different concerts, all in the period 2005-2007, and a DVD, containing quite a number of performances by Morgan Ĺgren, over the period of 16 years. Interesting stuff, and even more interesting for the young drummers, who will learn a lot from this DVD I guess. Check his home-made drums for example, or some amazing performances and solo's.

Recommended for RIO, fusion, jazz and avant-garde connoisseurs.

Report this review (#627222)
Posted Monday, February 6, 2012 | Review Permalink

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