Exit! cover

On Friday the 13th, 2012, saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, bassist Johan Berthling, and drummer Andreas Werliin, aka Fire!, already plenty powerful as a trio, decided to see what they could accomplish as a 27-member improvising big band: two dozen musicians (six reeds, five brass, three guitarists, three keyboardists, four bassists, four drummers) and three vocalists, performing a 45-minute epic split into two side-long chunks. There are some fierce solos, but this is no mere slab of blare; it’s a slow-burning groove orchestrated like a 1970s Lalo Schifrin movie score, with poetic lyrics (delivered by Sofia Jernberg) and a four-bass, four-drums pulse like a whale’s heartbeat.

Phil Freeman

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