TRIO Guy/Gustaffson/Strid


MATS GUSTAFSSON fluteophone, soprano, tenor & baritone sax

RAYMOND STRID percussion

You Forget to Answer (liner notes)

Age four to twelve, my greatest pleasure was to catch frogs. These years of earnest experience tell me that there is a special skill involved in frog catching, one might even say an art. You see, it's not just a matter of speed or power – if you do nothing but lunge quick and hard, the frog will simply spring from its perch and out of your grasp. The art of frogging is more a matter of finding just the right moment to strike, of selecting precisely the time to move your hand at precisely the speed and in precisely the same arc traced out by the leap of the frog. It's precise work to snare the web-foot.

The way to find that moment and that vector entails something more than guesswork or luck. You have to empathize with the amphibian. For a split second you've got to imagine yourself the frog. This is essential, for the frog already knows the art of frog-catching. He's honed his craft on flies, mosquitoes, and water-bugs, sure, but at heart he's a frogger just like you. So, if possible you must identify with the frog, visualize the insect it's about to devour, choose the same moment to jump that he would, that he inevitably, irrevocably will choose. You have to pick the frog's brain, because there's one right time to act, and only the frog knows when that is. The frog is the master.

Ultra-slow motion study: the frog and your hand begin to move at the same instant, his rear legs reach full extension as he leaves the ground, your fingers curl around them, cradling them in motion and gliding together like an ice-skating team or Astaire and Rogers; bulbous eyes closed flat against his head, front arms tucked in, he's a cannonball mid-air when all of a sudden >FLASH< your hand jerks closed and the show's over. The frog is yours.

Guy, Gustafsson and Strid make their music difficult to capture with tools as blunt and lethargic as words. One is tempted to lunge at it, but it just wriggles away. The trio's sound is an accumulation of precisely timed movements: elements of steady determination, strategy, even calculation, but also, once the move is started, a force of lightning quickness and tensile strength. Nothing hesitant, nothing unsure. This is frogging music, no doubt in my mind. A form of improvising that requires the same kind of deep emphatic relations. To communicate at a level not just reactive – the brutality of scaring frogs into nets, or of simple question-answer improvising – but truly emphatic. To visualise the fly through the frog's eyes.

You Forget To Answer: perhaps there's no response because once that deep empathy occurs it pre-empts conventional communication routes. If we both ask the same question at the same time, who's supposed to reply? In its temporal seizures, Barry's bass at times seems to anticipate what the Swedes will do, like those rare outings in which you see the frog about to jump and get there first; you know before he does, and he literally hops into your hand. The emphatic circulation runs through many other networks: Mats's uncanny ability to grasp and redirect energies, Raymond's radiant projection of a center of gravity.

Make the grab at the wrong time, the croaker plunks away, rings on the pond. But become the batrachian and you've already snared him.

John Corbett, Chicago, June 1996