chris mcgregor | brotherhood of breath

wood fire



Chris McGregor / piano, Dudu Pukwana / alto saxophone, Evan Parker, Gary Windo / tenor saxes, Mongezi Feza, Mark Charig, Harry Beckett / trumpets, Nick Evans, Radu Malfatti / trombones, Harry Miller / bass, Louis Moholo / drums. Recorded:1974 in concert, Willisau, Switzerland.

Chris McGregor’s sextet, made up of South African expatriates, was one of the most interesting groups working in England in the mid-’60s. The Brotherhood of Breath came into being as an occasional larger-scale extension of that group. McGregor subsequently settled in France; some of the sextet members became Spear ,but the Brotherhood still was brought into being for the occasions when a gig could be set up for it. At its best this band always had a looseness, a tidal quality that belied the stiffening traditions of its relatively unconventional instrumentation, and luckily was recorded here at something near its best level of achievement.

0110bluenotes.jpgMcGregor’s scores stem mainly from strong and simple themes that reflect the South African idioms that did so much to fuel his sextet and, later, Spear, and from the song tradition bequeathed from Albert Ayler, though taken with their interpretation they amount to something more than the sum of factors working on them. They ride easily over a good rhythm section where for once Louis Moholo has been recorded at his unrestrained best. There are plenty of good solos too, notably from Pukwana, Parker, Feza and the two trombones, The recording quality is occasionally uneven, but given the “live” situation this is understandable; and in view of the fact that it’s turned out to be McGregor’s best record yet, and a good one by any standards, this factor becomes entirely insignificant.

Jack Cooke, 1975

Christopher McGregor (24 December 1936 – 26 May 1990), was a caucasion South African jazz pianist, band-leader and composer born in Somerset West, South Africa. McGregor is perhaps best-known for his foundation and leadership of The Blue Notes, a South African sextet which included collaboraters Dudu Pukwana, Nick Moyake, Louis Moholo, Johnny Dyani and Mongezi Feza. Equally as notable was McGregor’s creation of the Brotherhood of Breath, which branched out from his work as The Blue Notes.

selected Chris McGregor recordings


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