Noah Howard

Patterns/Message to South Africa

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Even with its deficiencies, this album is an important one. The first piece, "Patterns," recorded in low fidelity for Dutch radio and originally self-released in 1971, combines the playing of alto saxophonist Noah Howard with pianist Misha Mengelberg, guitarist Jaap Schoonhoven, and drummer Han Bennink, along with some American ex-pats for a sprawling 36-minute barrage of sound. There is plenty of solo piano for devotees of Mengelberg, but there is also perhaps a bit too much of the drums and congas for the mix. The second cut, "Message to South Africa," features a fascinating and often stunning quintet in which Howard leads bassist Johnny Dyani, pianist Chris McGregor, and others through a blues-drenched political tome. This cut was not released until 1999, purportedly because of its supposedly controversial nature. The under-recorded McGregor and Howard are in peak form.

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