This is a reissue of an extremely rare album from 1969 (originally on Quasar, then FMP Records, out of print for 20 years ‘r’ so) by a group consisting of many of the premier musicians of the 1960s West European free/avant garde jazz scene. Aside from the usual Historical Significance factor of the crème de la crème of the British, German and Dutch free players of that time (or any time, for that matter) in one place, there’s some very compelling, very demanding music here. Points of reference would include Cecil Taylor, The Art Ensemble of Chicago and - especially - Albert Ayler. This music isn’t about head-solos-head, playing the changes, reinventing standards - it’s about collective improvisation and getting the instruments to sound like a human scream/shriek, catharsis and reflecting/combating the tumult of a very tumultuous time. Not everything works here: sometimes the ensemble playing falls into tres avant clatterland, which may’ve sounded brave and exciting in ’69 (and ’79 or ’89) but sounds a tad tedious now. Yet there’s undeniably raw, scary, gutbusting fervor in the soloing, especially from bassist J.B. Niebergall and from Ayler’s heir apparent Peter Brotzmann, who both wrench every dark, twisted buried thing from your subconscious and exorcise it. The ‘straightest’ arrow here is Manfred Schoof, with his hearty, bristling, Freddie Hubbard-tinged tone. Also, there’re some whooping, fractured Charles Mingus-like themes here ‘n’ there, along with some calm-in-the-eye-of-the-hurricane from von Schlippenbach. If you’re not a hardcore fan of "outside" sounds, The Living Music is unlikely to convert you - but if you’re a devotee of free/avant jazz, especially from the 60s and the European community, grab it before it disappears (again).