36th Vilnius Jazz Festival. 12-16 October, 2022

Fire! Orchestra


Mats Gustafsson - bs
Sofia Jernberg - voc
Anna Lindal - vl
Leo Svensson - vlo
Josefin Runsteen – vl, perc, voc
Katt Hernandez – vl
Per Texas Johansson - cls
Christer Bothén- cls
Isak Hedtjärn – bcl
Alexander Zethson - p
Susana Santos Silva - tp
Johan Berthling - b
Andreas Werliin – dr
Mikael Werliin – sound

Swedish saxophonist and composer Mats Gustafsson, one of Europe’s biggest names on the improvised music scene and already well known by Lithuanian jazz aficionados, is back in Vilnius with his most vibrant formation.

Nothing could prepare the audience for Fire! Orchestra’s extraordinary dynamism, creativity and frenetic compound of styles and genres. Forged by the audacious innovators of the 21st century this music veers between post-rock/krautrock, the noise of heavy industry, garage punk and electroacoustic experiments.

Late one night by the end of 2011 Mats Gustafsson, bassist Johan Berthling and sound engineer Andreas Werliin got the crazy idea of expanding their trio Fire! into a 28-piece orchestra, inviting their Swedish friends from the worlds of jazz, avantgarde rock and improvised music.

In January 2012, a debut album Exit! was recorded. The Orchestra spent two following winters touring Scandinavia and soon after introduced itself to the rest of Europe. The second album Enter was released in 2014, ranking high on many ‘best of’ lists of rock- and jazz press alike.

Saxophonist and composer Mats Gustafsson is one of Europe’s leading figures on the contemporary music scene. In over three decades-long career he has established himself as a saxophonist of wide artistic horizons, recorded a great number of albums with myriads of different groups and has somewhat reinvented the way of playing the saxophone.

The improviser writes music for solo saxophone, live electronics, ensembles and orchestras, sound installations, collaborates with contemporary dancers and visual artists, theatre companies and poets. In addition, he acts as a curator of the Swedish Concert Institute projects, an adviser for various festivals; has greatly contributed to the reestablishment of the Association of Free Improvised Music in Sweden.

He has enjoyed commissions by the Swedish Concert Institute, the Swedish National Radio, Umeå-based Norrlands Operans Symfoniorkester, Klangforum Wien and various other festivals and institutions. His compositions are played by Copenhagen Art Ensemble, Trondheim Improvisers Ensemble and Trondheim Voices, Peter Brötzmann Tentet and Thurston Moore Sonic Youth among other groups.

His name is associated with more than 20 formations. Last year he has brought one of his most exiting groups The Thing trio to Vilnius Jazz festival. The musician has toured all continents with his colleagues.

Mats Gustafsson was born in Umeå, Northern Sweden. His first instrument was the flute, but by his early teens Gustafsson was playing saxophone as well. Around the age of 14, he put his saxophone mouthpiece on his flute to bring an instrument along on a trip, and since then has played this creation, the fluteophone, in addition to other, more standard reed instruments. He began to play in punk and jazz-rock groups and in 1982 he got interested in improvised music and started collaborating with drummer Kjell Nordeson, who would later form the AALY Trio with Gustafsson.

Gustafsson moved to Stockholm in the mid-‘80s and formed Gush Trio with Sten Sandell and Raymond Strid. Later he met German drummer Paul Lovens, who became Gustafsson’s partner in various NU formations.

His international recognition was prompted by collaboration with Berlin-based Sven-Åke Johansson as well as Derek Bailey’s Company in London. At that time he joined the Peter Brötzmann Tentet, becoming a regular in the Chicago improvising community, working extensively with Hamid Drake and Ken Vandermark, among others.

In 2000, together with Thurston Moore and Jim O’Rourke he formed Diskaholics Anonymous Trio, started collaborating with Sonic Youth rock group, joined Barry Guy’s New Orchestra and continued working with The Thing.

Gustafsson has received the Swedish Royal Academy of Music Large Prize of Jazz (2004), Expressen’s Spelmannen Prize (2004) and the prestigious Nordic Council Music Prize (2011). He was voted the best jazz artist of the year in Sweden in 2000 and 2008. 

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