District Six

To Be Free

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One of South African pianist Chris McGregor's last groups was a quintet called District Six. This LP features McGregor with trumpeter Jim Dvorak, saxophonist Harrison Smith, electric bassist Bill Katz and drummer Brian Abrahams. Even after having lived in Europe for nearly 25 years, McGregor's thoughts were clearly on South Africa; the cover photos of this LP are of his then-divided homeland, and the song titles of the originals (all by Abrahams or Dvorak) pay tribute to Winnie Mandela (a three-song, 17½-minute suite) and the late bassist Johnny Dyani; plus, they include "Ke A Rona (Power to the People") and "Into the Light." The music (as with Abdullah Ibrahim's) uses some folky melodies as the basis for the solos. Throughout, the rhythmic and exploratory piano playing of McGregor holds the music together and can be heard in prime form.

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