Monday, June 09, 2008

Chris McGregor Group - Very Urgent (Polydor 1968, Fledg'ling, 2008)

Leading an integrated group in 1960's South Africa was a dicey situation to say the least. Pianist, composer and bandleader Chris McGregor emigrated to the UK with his group The Blue Notes which would eventually morph into the influential big band The Brotherhood of Breath. This album was a transition between the two groups, with McGregor on piano, Mongezi Feza on trumpet, Dudu Pukwana on alto saxophone, Ronnie Beer on tenor saxophone, Johnny Dyani on bass and Louis Moholo on drums. The music drifts between thoroughly composed and tightly arranged band arrangements and cacophonous free form improvisations. McGregor's Monkish percussive piano grounds the music and anchors the lengthy opening medley "Marie My Dear/Traveling Somewhere," while "Heart's Vibrations" and "The Sounds Begin Again/White Lies" allow the saxophonists to strut their stuff in an unrestrained manner. This is a very good album by an underrated group of musicians who are just now getting their due with this reissue program, and the concert albums being released by the Cuneiform label. This is wide open and exploratory music and I found it very enjoyable to listen to.

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