Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath
Eclipse at Dawn

[Cuneiform Records, www.cuneiformrecords.com]

Cuneiform Records continues its journey to uncover long-lost recordings of note. Their third in a series of Brotherhood of Breath re-issues sees them dig back in time to 1971. The place was Berlin and the occasion was the Berliner Jazztage.  The eleven-piece strong band was still led by pianist/arranger/composer Chris McGregor. The band was split between British musicians and those who emigrated few years prior from South Africa [former Blue Notes - saxophonist Dudu Pukwana, percussionist Louis Moholo, bassist Harry Miller and of course, McGregor on piano]. Rest of the band included saxophonists Mike Osborne, Alan Skidmore and Gary Windo, trombone players Nick Evans and Malcolm Griffiths and trumpeters Harry Beckett and Marc Charig. First thing that comes across is just how tight this unit was. When you listen to pieces like "Restless" and "Do It", all you hear is wall to wall, call and response cries. The trombones work in unison with the saxophones, while the trumpets walk their own path. Everyone is screaming with enormous passion, but yet there's complete coherence in the music. Save for a few, all too brief passages, McGregor's cluster piano analogies are nearly always drowned out by the brass section. Miller is especially gifted at walking a fine trajectory of melodicism and sheer power on his bass, while Moholo is an absolute force to be reckoned with. Sheer power, absolute commitment and a great bliss of joy, "Eclipse at Dawn" is a crucial document of one of the greatest big band ensembles of the 70s.

  - Tom Sekowski


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