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Tracklist: 1. Country Cooking 5:10 2. Bakwetha 7:36 3. Sweet As Honey 6:00 4. You & Me 6:54 5. Thunder In the Mountain 3:50 6. Big G 7:14 7. Maxine 10:01 8. Dakar 8:40 All compositions by McGregor, except 4: by McGregor / Segona, and 6: by George Lee. Arranged by McGregor. Line-up: Chris McGregor - piano Ernest Mothle - bass guitar; percussion Gilbert Mathhews - drums & percussion Tony Moronie - percussion Harry Beckett - trumpet, flugelhorn David Defries - Claude Deppa - Annie Whitehead - trumpet Fayaz Virji - Chris Biscoe - sax & clarinet Jeff Gordon - flute, Steve Williamson - saxophones Julian Argueles - Robert Juritz - bassoon, sax Produced by Joe Boyd. Recorded & mixed by John Timperley at "Angel" studios, London, UK. Mastered by Jack Adams at "Take One" studios, UK.
Prologue. I know that Chris McGregor is a rather famous performer of Jazz. However, I haven't heard his music until now.
The Album. Here is a rather widespread Russian proverb: "Those Who aren't able to Play Prog play Jazz". Which implies the inability of most of the jazz musicians to compose a truly profound music, especially on the spur of the moment, which, on the whole, is typical for them. I was always impressed by the performing skills of jazz musicians. It's also clear that their knowledge of the laws of Harmony is truly thorough. Where they really lack is in the composing department. By the way, there are not that little of the composed improvisations on "Country Cooking", while Sweet As Honey (3), You & Me (4), and especially the album's title track (1) are just filled with them. However, all of these composed improvisations (parts or themes, to be precise), most of which were performed by the brass section, remain invariable throughout each of the said compositions. Furthermore, they repeat themselves very often, which, being raised to the power of a very monotonous tempo makes these pieces absolutely uninteresting. On these tracks, this Brotherhood of Breath, which is a contemporary Big Band, reminds me of all those jazz-dance orchestras that were popular in the 1930s, etc. Bakwetha (2), Thunder In the Mountain (5), and Big G (6) are still the pieces of a pure Jazz, though they are much more serious than those three tracks (1, 3, & 4). In fact, only the last two compositions on the album, Maxine and Dakar (7 & 8), can be interesting from the progressive standpoint of view. There are no those separate, long and empty, drum and percussion solos (apart from the separate solos of other instruments) that are featured on a few of the previous tracks. What's central however, both of these pieces contain the arrangements that look like being really thought-out. Unlike all of the previous tracks (that make me nervous with their stupidly optimistic sound and quite a monotonous tempo), there are many of the profound symphonic arrangements with a dramatic feel to them on Maxine and Dakar.
Summary. It's difficult for me to recommend this album as a whole to any sort of Progressive Music lovers, including those into (progressive) Jazz-Fusion and even Jazz-Rock. I don't want to say that I regard Jazz as not a progressive music at all. However, while I can compare the works of Progressive Rock to the elitist feature films, my mind associates Jazz only with the documentary films. And I don't like the latter films, - no matter if they're profound or simply sincere. However, there are many of the truly progressive works on Musea's sub-label "Great Winds". For example, check out any of those albums by Francis Cahen (ex-Zao), the line-up of which includes no less than three members. To read the review on one of his albums, click here.
VM. May 1, 2002
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