Gunter Hampel

The 8th of July 1969

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Something of a landmark in late-'60s free jazz and an early collaboration between American members of the AACM (as represented by Braxton and McCall) and the European jazz avant-garde, the album issued under Gunter Hampel's name holds up quite well in retrospect. Despite his nominal affiliation with free jazz, Hampel never abandoned melody, and the opening track, "We Move," is a rollicking affair that features -- as does much of the record -- the superbly evocative vocals of the late Jeanne Lee. "Morning Song" develops into a more ferocious piece, with Braxton tearing things up in overdrive mode, propelled by the incendiary rhythm team of McCall and Gorter. The long "Crepuscule," in contrast, is quietly brooding, opening with a subdued, grumbling bass clarinet trio and generally staying within sonic areas involving soft breaths, sighs, and moans. Though it works up a strong head of steam in its latter third, this stirring performance points out the fallacy of free jazzers doing nothing but screaming and hollering, and nods in the direction of "quiet improv" experiments of 20 to 30 years hence. A fascinating and important historical document and a fine listen in its own right, The 8th of July 1969 is a date to remember.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
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