Globe Unity Orchestra / Choir of the NDR-Broadcast

Hamburg '74

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This date by the Globe Unity Orchestra featured pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach, guitarist Derek Bailey, drummers Paul Lovens and Han Bennink, saxophonists Peter Brötzmann, Evan Parker, Rüdiger Carl, Gerd Dudek, and Michel Piz, bassist Peter Kowald, trumpeters Kenny Wheeler and Manfred Schoof , and trombonists Paul Rutherford and Günter Christmann -- a completely gone lineup at the height of Euro free jazz in 1974. To add to the drama, the band is joined by the Choir of the NDR Broadcast under the direction of Helmut Franz. All of this was captured at the NDR Jazz Workshop. The first piece here, titled "Hamburg '74," is nearly half-an-hour in length and was scripted by Von Sclippenbach. A spoken word introduction is followed by chatter from the chorus, then by slow, quiet, atonal squeaks and squeals from reeds and brass. Before long the choir enters singing long, languorous anthemic lines in counterpoint before all hell breaks loose at six minutes. Here the band kicks its improvisation in full-force and the choir improvises, too -- individually and collectively! It is one of the most exciting moments in free jazz. Its only equal is that moment on Coltrane's Live In Seattle where he and Pharoah Sanders, going as far as they could go on their horns, put them down and start hollering their improvisations. What happens for the next 20 minutes is indescribably beautiful, wild and wondrous and terrifying in places. The second piece here, "Contrast and Synthesis," is nearly 20 minutes, and though a little more closely scripted in the opening section, it is nonetheless full of pathos and drama as well. Here too, once the band starts collectively improvising away form the composed lines and the choir follows them, the entire sky opens in a fantastic cacophony. This title, originally issued on FMP was released on CD as part of Atavistic's Unheard Music Series.

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