Globe Unity Orchestra

Globe Unity 67 & 70

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On this reissue, Alexander Von Schlippenbach leads two huge, all-star lineups of 18 European improvisers through two big band pieces that aren't just the crazy free explosions one might expect. While there's plenty of playing that's aggressive, dissonant, and, well, loud, these pieces are also ingeniously arranged. Von Schlippenbach scored both pieces using graphic notation, in which the composer dictates the shape of the piece, but might not tell the players what notes and rhythms to play. So while the improvisers here have a lot of freedom, they also hang together quite well given the number of musicians involved. There are plenty of solo passages, so the personalities of the individual players, such as Peter Brötzmann and Han Bennink, aren't lost in the crowd. Before he composed the frameworks for the two compositions here, Von Schlippenbach surely thought of earlier pieces of free improvisation for a large ensemble, such as John Coltrane's Ascension and Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz. While Globe Unity 67 & 70 is close to those pieces in spirit, though, it often differs widely from them in practice. Compared to Ascension and Free Jazz, the organization of Von Schlippenbach's music is not as similar to traditional American jazz and neither is the playing: the members of Von Schlippenbach's orchestra would rather shriek through their horns or bellow huge, roaring glissandi than play anything resembling the blues. Globe Unity 67 & 70 is rich, provocative European free improvisation that's well worth hearing for fans of any of the musicians who play on it.

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