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Bremen To Bridgwater by Chris McGregor's Brotherhood Of Breath

The late pianist/composer/bandleader Chris McGregor was an important figure in UK jazz in the 1970s. A South African expatriate, McGregor organized tremendous bands from fellow expats and the crème de la crème of the UK’s post-bop, avant-garde and fusion scenes. McG’s compositions are powerfully rhythmic, have tonal "unison" colors recalling Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson, melodies influenced by South African township music and room for some cheery, freewheeling skronk from some of the most talented fellows who ever applied breath to wind instruments in the British Isles. It’s not hyperbole to suggest that Chris McGregor was to the UK jazz scene what Charlie Mingus was to the US jazz scene - and like Mingus, McG’s music was a rousing mélange of the thoughtful and visceral. This 2-CD set collects three previously unissued live shows from Breman, Germany 1971 and Bridgwater, England 1975, and features a band that has the ragged, fierce, joyous whoop of Mingus at his wildest, the swing and unity of Henderson and Woody Herman, the soulfulness of Abdullah Ibrahim, the defiant squall of the Euro-free scene (like Peter Brotzmann) and the warmth of Don Cherry. One caveat: the sound quality is not consistent throughout: not bad sound, mind you, but a little cavernous here ‘n’ there, and better in some parts than others. But the musical import/value of this 2.5+ hour set indeed outstrips such concerns. Fans of Chris McGregor will naturally be overjoyed with this, and fans of Mingus, Roscoe Mitchell’s Note Factory, Lester Bowie's brass bands, Trevor Watts, Keith Tippet, George Russell, etc. will likely find this extremely appealing; neophytes are urged to check out McG’s studio recordings first.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Chris McGregor's Brotherhood Of Breath
  • CD Title: Bremen To Bridgwater
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Cuneiform
  • Musicians: C. McG.: piano; Evan Parker, Gary Windo, Elton Dean, Dudu Pukwana: saxes; Harry Beckett, Marc Charig, Mongezi Feza: trumpets; Malcolm Griffiths: trombone; Harry Miller: bass; Keith Bailey: drums; others.
  • Rating: Four Stars
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