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Marcello Melis: The New Village on The Left

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Free jazz connoisseurs will want to hear this 1977 recording. There are some tracks that feature traditional Sardinian singing (by an accomplished quartet, Gruppo Rubanu), first on its own then mixed in with the group of Enrico Rava, Roswell Rudd, and Dan Moye with Melis on bass. This blend of unrelated musics goes down surprisingly well, and the interplay between Rudd and Rava calls to mind one of the great free jazz groups, the New York Art Quartet. Melis sounds hard pressed to keep up with the group he has assembled at times, but certainly deserves praise for putting this together. There is a consistent feeling of anxious tension that keeps pulling one’s attention back to those two master hornmen, and it takes a while to realize how much of that is created by Moye’s magic. The overall impression is perhaps of a diamond in the rough, but the high points here are high indeed. If there is a better recording put together by an unfamiliar continental player teaming up with free jazz names, I can’t think of it.