Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Chris McGregor: Travelling Somewhere

Val Wilmer was right on when she called Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath “a band for an era and a metaphor for freedom.” Leading a contingent of his fellow exiles with London’s cutting-edge improvisers, the late South African pianist created a singular body of big-band music in the 1970s, blending the hymns and Kwela and Marabi music that permeated his youth with an Ellington-inspired sense of swing and deference to his soloists. A previously unreleased Radio Bremen performance from 1973, Travelling Somewhere conveys the jubilant, occasionally cyclonic energy that epitomized the Brotherhood of Breath’s radical cultural positivism.

Though it was recorded only eight days before the concert issued on Live in Willisau (Ogun), only five tunes appear on both discs, and the Bremen gig benefits from the presence of trombonist Malcolm Griffiths and alto saxophonist Mike Osborne in the 12-man contingent. Additionally, McGregor’s practice of stringing two to four tunes together is better represented here than even the CD version of the Willisau concert, which pasted in pieces cut for the original LP. Though McGregor is often submerged in the mix and is saddled with what sounds like the infamous Five Spot piano that plagued Eric Dolphy’s live dates, the overall sound is on par with the Willisau recording.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published