Mats Gustafsson

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Mats Gustafsson
Mats Gustafsson in concert, 2010
Mats Gustafsson in concert, 2010
Background information
Birth nameMats Olof Gustafsson
Born (1964-10-29) 29 October 1964 (age 56)
Umeå, Sweden
GenresJazz, free jazz
InstrumentsSaxophone, fluteophone, flute, clarinet
Years active1986–present
LabelsRune Grammofon, Smalltown Supersound
Associated actsThe Thing, Fire! Orchestra, Gunter Christmann, Barry Guy, Paul Lovens, Raymond Strid, Kjell Nordeson, Paal Nilssen-Love, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Joe McPhee, Ken Vandermark, Mademoiselle Karen, Sonic Youth, Yoshimi P-We, Zu, Merzbow, Colin Stetson, Derek Bailey, The Ex, Peter Brötzmann, Otomo Yoshihide, Jim O'Rourke, Thomas Lehn, Evan Parker, Per Henrik Wallin, Jaap Blonk, Michael Zerang, Christian Skår Winther, Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard, Balázs Pándi, Four Tet, Steve Reid, David Grubbs, Magnus Broo, Misha Mengelberg

Mats Olof Gustafsson (born 29 October 1964) is a Swedish free jazz saxophone player. He is known for his tonal belligerence and intensity when improvising.


Mats Gustafsson at Moers Festival, June 2006, Germany
Mats Gustafsson at "Sonore" concert, Lviv, 14 Dec 2008

Gustafsson came to the attention of lovers of improvised music as part of a duo with Christian Munthe (started in 1986), as member of Gunter Christmann's Vario project and the band Gush (started in 1988). He later played widely with Peter Brötzmann, Joe McPhee, Paul Lovens, Barry Guy, Yoshimi P-We, Derek Bailey, Magnus Broo, Otomo Yoshihide, Pat Thomas, Jim O'Rourke, Thomas Lehn, Evan Parker, Misha Mengelberg, Zu, The Ex and Sonic Youth.

Since the early 1990s Gustafsson has been a regular visitor to the United States, forming a particular affinity with Chicago musicians Hamid Drake, Michael Zerang, and Ken Vandermark and recording for Okka Disk. This resulted in a more traditional free jazz style in contrast to his innovative early work with European improvising musicians.

He was awarded the 2011 Nordic Council Music Prize.[1]

Gustafsson has worked extensively with artists from the worlds of dance, theatre, poetry and painting. He has lived in Nickelsdorf, Austria since 2011.[2]

Festival curator[edit]

Gustafsson curated the Perspectives festivals in Västerås, Sweden in 2004, 2007 and 2009. This festival of musical improvisation is noted for its cross-genre character and creative atmosphere among musicians.[3] The festival slogan for 2004 was "Fight Global Stupidity", 2007 "Fight Local Stupidity" and for 2009 it became "Fight (y)our stupidity".

Gustafsson was also joint curator of the 2010 Konfrontationen festival in Nickelsdorf, Austria.[4]




As leader[edit]

  • 1991: Nothing to Read (Blue Tower), with Paul Lovens
  • 1995: Parrot Fish Eye (Okka Disk)
  • 1995: For Don Cherry (Blue Tower), with Hamid Drake
  • 1996: Mouth Eating Trees and Related Activities (Okka Disk), with Barry Guy & Paul Lovens
  • 1997: Frogging (Maya), with Barry Guy
  • 1997: Impropositions (Phono Suecia)
  • 1999: The Education of Lars Jerry (Xeric)
  • 1999: Hidros One (Caprice), with Nu-Ensemblen
  • 2000: Port Huron Picnic (Spool), with Kurt Newman & Mike Gennaro
  • 2002: The School Days and Thing (Anagram), the music of Norman Howard presented by Mats Gustafsson
  • 2003: Blues (Atavistic), with David Stackenäs
  • 2004: Hidros 3 (Smalltown Supersound), Sonic Youth With Friends
  • 2005: Slide (Firework Edition)
  • 2005: Catapult (Doubtmusic)
  • 2007: It Is All About... (Tyfus)
  • 2007: Words on the Floor (Smalltown Superjazzz), with Yoshimi P-We
  • 2008: Mats G Plays Duke E (Qbico)
  • 2008: Cosmic Debris Volume IV (Opax), with My Cat Is An Alien
  • 2008: The Vilnius Implosion (NoBusiness)
  • 2008: Mats G Plays Duke E (Qbico)
  • 2009: Mats G. Plays Albert A. (Qbico)
  • 2012: Baro 101 (Terp ), with Paal Nilssen-Love & Mesele Asmamaw
  • 2012: Mats G. Plays Gullin (Sagittarius A-Star)
  • 2012: Birds (dEN ), with John Russell & Raymond Strid
  • 2012: Bengt (Utech)
  • 2013: Eissalon (Live) (Rock Is Hell ), with Didi Kern
  • 2013: Vi Är Alla Guds Slavar (Otoroku), with Thurston Moore
  • 2014: Hidros6 Knockin' (Not Two), with NU Ensemble
  • 2015: Hit The Wall! (Smalltown Superjazzz), with Thurston Moore
  • 2016: Piano Mating (Blue Tapes and X-Ray)

With AALY Trio + Ken Vandermark

As sideman[edit]

With Per Henrik Wallin & Kjell Nordeson
  • 1995: Dolphins, Dolphins, Dolphins (Dragon)
With Jaap Blonk & Michael Zerang
  • 1996: Improvisors (Kontrans)
With Ken Vandermark
  • 1997: FJF: Blow Horn (Okka Disk)
  • 2013: Verses (Corbett vs. Dempsey)
With Jim O'Rourke
  • 1999: Xylophonen Virtuosen (Incus)
With David Grubbs
  • 1999: Apertura (Blue Chopsticks)
  • 2002: Off-Road (Blue Chopsticks)
With Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo & Steve Shelley
  • 2000: New York – Ystad (Olof Bright)
With Greg Goodman & George Cremaschi
  • 2002: They Were Gentle and Pretty Pigs (The Beak Doctor)
With Agustí Fernández
  • 2005: Critical Mass (psi)
With Paal Nilssen-Love
  • 2005: Splatter (Smalltown Superjazzz)
With Sonic Youth & Merzbow
  • 2008: Andre Sider Af Sonic Youth (Sonic Youth)
With Pat Thomas and Roger Turner (The Articles)
  • 2008: Goodbye Silence
With Barry Guy Solo/Duo
  • 2009: Sinners, Rather than Saints (NoBusiness)
With Gord Grdina Trio
  • 2010: Barrel Fire (Drip Audio)
With Kieran Hebden & Steve Reid
  • 2011: Live at the South Bank (Smalltown Superjazzz)
With The Sons of God
  • 2011: Reception (Firework Edition)
With Masami Akita & Jim O'Rourke
With Colin Stetson
With Ich Bin N!ntendo including Christian Skår Winther, Joakim Heibø Johansen & Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard
  • 2012: Ich Bin N!ntendo & Mats Gustafsson (Va Fongool)[5]
With The Ex
With Agustí Fernández & Ramon Prats
  • 2013: Breakin the Lab! (Discordian)
With Correction
  • 2013: Shift (Otoroku)[6]
With Merzbow & Balázs Pándi
  • 2013: Cuts (RareNoise)
  • 2015: Live in Tabačka 13/04/12 (Tabačka)
With Merzbow, Balázs Pándi & Thurston Moore
With Craig Taborn


  • T. Millroth: "Aaly Trio", Orkester journalen, lvi/4 (1988), 11 .
  • M. Chaloin: "Mats Gustafsson", Improjazz, no.19 (1995), 6.
  • W. Montgomery: "Mats Gustafsson: Flow Motion", Wire, no.164 (1997), 18.
  • J. Hale: "Mats Gustafsson", Coda, no.288 (1999), 17.


  1. ^ "Mats Gustafsson wins the Nordic Council Music Prize 2011". 1 June 2011. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  2. ^ "KONFRONTATIONEN NICKELSDORF 2010". Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  3. ^ "Perspectives 2004 - Festival for Creative Music". Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  4. ^ "Konfrontationen Nickelsdorf 2010". Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  5. ^ "MIch Bin N!ntendo & Mats Gustafsson". Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  6. ^ "Mats Gustafsson Discography". Retrieved 29 September 2013.

External links[edit]