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GUSHPANKA – ‘Gushpanka’ (Apart Records)

Posted: May 24th, 2008, by Pascal Ansell

Contemporary jazz is a horrendously difficult goat to reign in. The cerebral, ‘difficult’ nature of many modern players I’ve come across means that trying to make any sense of it nigh-on impossible, the whiff of academia too overpowering. I’ve moaned before of newer jazz that seems “relentlessly modern… cold and unfeeling”. Yet all has changed, you’ll be pant-wettingly excited to read. After slotting itself through the letterbox, the self-titled album from Swedish jazz quartet Gushpanka has embedded itself in my noggin with its thoroughly addictive and tuneful melodies. 

The Gushpanka modus operandi revolves around the “belief in the timeless power of melody and rhythm”. Bingo! The word ‘gushpanka’ is an old Aramaic word meaning ‘approval’ or ‘seal’; Sweden, Finland and Israel all come under the band’s cloak. With piano, sax, bass and drums, the general mood of their debut album is nothing but friendly, and more importantly, tuneful!

‘Counter reset’ (along with the whole album) gains from multiple listens – an intelligent and dynamic piece, not without warmth or melody. A brilliant break-down mid-way through the piece is the album’s peak: gusty pumping from saxophonist Jonas Knutsson – outrageous pangs and slaps, brilliantly playful invention. Knutsson is impressive throughout the album, retaining a wonderfully clear and crisp tone. An addictive, rambling and meandering motif kicks off ‘Algo-rhythm’ – this is ace modern jazz! Complicated, dynamic, but, thankfully, tuneful! 

Even after many, many listens, there are still plenty to explore in ‘Gushpanka’ – a remarkable album of original compositions with tons of depth. It’s endlessly diverse: ballads, songs bordering on free-jazz, pumped-up rhythmic pieces… An aural joy for tired-out modern ears. 

Pascal Ansell


Pascal Ansell

Pascal is a fearsome, hungry giant trapped in the body of a hyperactive boy. On a mission to waste no more than 14 seconds per day, he bounds from activity to activity like a deer being chased by a cheetah. Follow him now, as in ten year's time he'll be a leading voice in something or other. He's also writing down every word you say in a small book so watch out!


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