Contemporary Jazz Quintet Actions 1966 – 67

Chicago’s Atavistic label continues their revelatory Unheard Music series with this phenomenal unearthed release from one of the European free jazz movement’s key ensembles, the Contemporary Jazz Quintet. Recorded in 1966 and ’67, the five pieces that comprise this album serve as an indicator of what was brewing around the time, slightly before sax blower Peter Brötzmann defined the European free jazz sound by making his mark in 1968 with the ear splitting Machine Gun album. At this time the Quintet, comprised of bass, trumpet, alto sax, drums and saw (that’s right, a singing saw), had been around for over seven years, in various forms, and were reeling from developments they’d heard in innovators like Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler. The sessions featured on this album are totally loose and entirely improvised, ebbing and flowing, reeling and rocking about like organisms in themselves. There are no themes or structures to speak of, outside of the unintended. Frank Beckerlee’s fluttering alto sax style often tends to take the cake, but Steffen Andersen’s plucky upright bass strokes and Bo Thirge Andersen’s chaotic and inspired drums provide a more-than-adequate spine for the soloists’ unbridled nerves. Any free jazz fanatic will absolutely devour these enlightened performances. (Atavistic)