Brotherhood of Breath

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The Brotherhood of Breath was a big band created, in the late 1960s, by South African pianist and composer Chris McGregor (1936-1990), essentially an extension of McGregor's previous band The Blue Notes.

The Brotherhood of Breath included many members of the South African expatriate community resident in London, including McGregor himself, Louis Moholo, Harry Miller, Mongezi Feza, Dudu Pukwana, (occasionally) Johnny Dyani; and many of the free jazz musicians who were based in London at the same time: Lol Coxhill, Evan Parker, Paul Rutherford, Harry Beckett, Marc Charig, Alan Skidmore, Mike Osborne, Elton Dean, Nick Evans, and John Surman. The personnel was fluid, depending on who was available.

The original Brotherhood Of Breath ended in the late 70's, with the deaths of Mongezi Feza and Harry Miller (whose label, Ogun Records, released some of the Brotherhood's albums.) McGregor formed a second version of the group in France in the early 80's. In 1987, a third edition was formed with African and British musicians such as Annie Whitehead. In this incarnation the music was more tightly arranged and controlled, with less free improvisation.

The music resembles a mixture of the hard-driving blues of Charles Mingus and the wild experimentalism of Sun Ra, but retains a unique feel due to the South African influences and the intelligent arrangements.

Discography[edit]

  • "Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath" (RCA Neon 1971)
  • "Eclipse at Dawn" (1971; Cuneiform Rune 262 - 2008)
  • "Brotherhood" (RCA 1972)
  • "From Bremen To Bridgewater" (1971/1975; Cuneiform Rune 182/183 - 2004)
  • "Travelling Somewhere" (1973; Cuneiform Rune 152 - 2001)
  • "Live at Willisau" (OGUN 100 1974)
  • "Procession" (Ogun 524 1978)
  • "Yes Please" (In and Out 1981)
  • "Country Cooking" (GW3106AR 1988)
  • "En Concert a Banlieues Bleues (with Archie Shepp - Rue Est CD 017 - 1989)

References[edit]

  • Maxine McGregor: Chris McGregor and the Brotherhood of Breath: my life with a South African jazz pioneer. Bamberger Books, Flint, MI 1995; ISBN 0-917453-32-8