Bandleader Gil Evans once said of Cecil Taylor, "when I hear him I burst out laughing in pleasure because his work is so full of things...There's so much going on." That having been said, Evans would likely be doubled over on the floor, provided he were listening to this spirited Dave Burrell LP. "Echo," the album's opener, begins with a low-end piano crash and, from there, all hell breaks loose. From the opening seconds, every member of this all-star ensemble -- save for Grachan Moncur III, maybe -- is simply blowing or pounding his respective brains out. Interestingly, the sheer incessancy of the group's collective attack, as brutal as it first appears, becomes pleasantly numbing after a while. Make no mistake, though, if "Echo" isn't the noisiest jazz song in the world, it's damned close. This is some seriously free improvisation that may prove too much for the casual avant-garde listener. Thankfully, the session's other tune, "Peace," provides a bit more room to breathe and at least some semblance of a theme. On this one, Burrell runs a simple cascading scale up and down and back and forth, lending the piece a swirling, dreamy feel -- just the antidote for the tension found on side one. Specifics aside, Echo is monster of an LP. The ensemble represented here is a veritable who's who of the 1969 Paris free jazz scene: Archie Shepp, Clifford Thornton, Alan Silva, Sunny Murray, Arthur Jones, Burrell, and the aforementioned Grachan Moncur III. True, this music isn't for everyone, but few groups played hardcore free jazz as well as what you will hear on Echo. These guys were (and still are) the real deal. No questions asked.
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AllMusic Review by Brandon Burke