Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Louis Moholo-Moholo, Dudu Pukwana, Johnny Dyani with Frank Wright - Spiritual Knowledge and Grace (Ogun Records, recorded 1979, released 2011)

The Blue Notes were a great integrated jazz band who fled to Europe to escape the ravages of apartheid. In the summer of 1979, the band was scheduled to tour Holland with the first stop in Eindhoven. Consisting of Louis Moholo-Moholo on drums and vocals, Dudu Pukwana on saxophone, piano and vocals and and Johnny Dyani on bass, piano and vocals, their final member, pianist Chris McGregor wasn't able to make the gig due to transportation delays. So the group improvised and started the party without him, picking up American free jazz icon Frank Wright and having a good old fashioned blowout, presented here as two thirty plus minute spontaneous improvisations, each blasting off for the cosmos. Different musicians take a turn at the piano while rotating between instruments giving the results a loose, jam-session type of appeal. There is some impulsive playing, saxophones free in the moment allowing their solos to develop mindfully with the environment and companionship around them, building music spontaneously like a musical Big Bang, from a point of beginning to a universe of sound-matter and energy. The banging out of piano chords to add to the good natured bonhomie and mayhem of the performance, which develops a collaborative groove akin to the music made by the Art Ensemble of Chicago. The music builds under thick bass with laughter and whistles before some more piano ushers in a new section. Some chanting and singing develops a Sun Ra like feel toward the end of the second performance as the music fades out. The lasting legacy of this performance is the ability of jazz musicians to make the best out of any situation. Instead of packing up and canceling the gig the remaining members of the band recruited a new friend and had a riotously good time playing the music they love. Spiritual Knowledge and Grace - jazz loft.com.

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