Chris McGrefor's Brotherhood of Breath Eclipse At Dawn

The Brotherhood of Breath band combined the best aspects of South African and British impulses in jazz. They existed as a regular touring unit during the first few years of the ’70s and sporadically after that until most of their key members died too young. Cuneiform’s third disc of live recordings taken from the line-up’s heyday may well be the best so far. The recording quality is acceptable but the band’s energy is unstoppable. They veer from Ellington-ian swing and South African kwela melodies to Ayler-inspired freedom at the drop of a hat, and Louis Moholo’s frantic drumming adds a Keith Moon-like intensity to everything. Surprisingly, ace trumpet player Mongezi Feza, the South African Don Cherry and then some, is not in the line-up on this date: November 4, 1971 in Berlin. His searing presence is compensated by the twin pit bull attack of Dudu Pukwana and Gary Windo, on alto and tenor, respectively, always ensuring that there are higher heights to be reached through collective improv than anyone thought possible. As with any Brotherhood release, there are some dry spells and rough patches but that’s free music for you. The highs are well worth it. (Cuneiform)