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Hugh Steinmetz: NU!

The Hugh Steinmetz record NU! (SteepleChase) is an important session that documented Danish free jazz in 1966 and marked the trumpeter’s first recording session as leader. This reissue also includes six previously unreleased, privately recorded versions of many of the same songs. The spirits of Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry hover over these tracks, especially the avant-plainsong “Nisshimbo,” with its unison horns over churning bass and drums. There are fast trills, full cries and even some braying from saxophonists Karsten Vogel and Niels Harrit. A really good drummer might have brought this to another level. “Peters F_dselsdag (Peter’s Birthday)” is a lovely ballad featuring Harrit on flute, and Steffen Andersen playing arco bass; “Stress-It” is about textures and out-of-tempo moans, with quick figures leading to long tones; “Pigen Prosa” actually swings, though more like trapeze artists than, say, Count Basie. The previously unissued selections are less derivative and hold up better. The second version of “Nisshimbo,” for example, is more syncopated, and this “Pigen Prosa” is about feelings instead of emotions. Special graphic bonus: very cool cover drawing.

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