This CD covers the historic beginnings of the British free music scene and its founding fathers: Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Hugh Davies, and future King Crimson drummer Jamie Muir. These recordings come off amazingly well on CD, considering the first four were recorded in mono. And while there are six pieces here, it's almost impossible to talk about them as separate entities, since what was at work in the group consciousness was to create a free jazz music in the U.K. that was distinct from what was happening in America and elsewhere in Europe at the time. Therefore in the brave spirit of rabid experimentation and oh so serious creative spirit, we have an amalgam of recordings that suggest the future of a free music that turned out very differently than its origins suggest. This collective is exactly that; none of these players -- especially not Parker or Bailey -- had developed into the kinds of soloists that they are today, not only in terms of technical expertise, but in terms of vision. What one can hear in the bravado here is indecision, and a questioning of improvisation's precepts; these queries would become liberating obstacles in the long run. The one constant here is the dynamic that became the trademark of a new, multi-linguistic music that has remained and evolved over time. This is document does sound dated, but only in that it reveals the origins of a continuing narrative. It's is a necessary addition to anyone's library who is interested in improvised music.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek