I've been pondering over this record for a while. I thought it looked good on paper, so when the chance came to get a copy, I found to my delight that it sounded good in practice as well. This was, I believe, a one-off event, so I doubt whether they have met later, but if they have, I would be interested to know.
This is a fine addition to the catalogue of European free jazzy big bands, suffice it to mention Globe Unity Orchestra, Willem Breuker Kollektief, Instant Composers Pool and the venerable Brotherhood of Breath. Breuker is here and so is Louis Moholo, the drummer with the BoB and the later Dedication Orchestra. The original version of "Khanya" is the opening tune on Moholo's "Spirit Rejoice" release on Ogun in 1978, later rereleased on cd and which should be part of any serious jazz collection. Yep, that important.
The title hints at circus music, and the burlesque playfulness of the Kollektief and the Brotherhood are on display with merry themes and raucous collective improvisation with the expert team of Bednarek and Moholo keeping a rock-solid rhythmic backbone. Listen especially to Moholo's "Khanya", a ferocious workout over the majestic theme, but there's also Breuker's "Another flat jungle", a circus-like theme giving way to beautiful ensemble work and a Breuker solo firing up Bednarek and Moholo behind him.
All in all, an ultra-fine record and on a label which I have rather associated with Dvorak and Smetana! It was later rereleased on the FMP label, but this is taken from the original Czechoslovakian release. By the way, if there are any followers from the Czech Republic or Slovakia, it would be interesting to know what the sleeve notes say. They are attached to this post in the comments section.
Jirí Stivín, flute, whistle, alto saxophone;
Trevor Watts, soprano and alto saxophones;
Rüdiger Carl, tenor saxophone;
Alan Skidmore, tenor saxphone;
Willem Breuker, alto and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet;
Jarmo Sermilä, trumpet, synthesizer;
Radu Malfatti, trombone;
Albert Mangelsdorff, trombone;
Tony Oxley, violin;
Antonín Matzner, synthesizer;
Rudolf Dasek, guitar;
Jacek Bednarek, bass;
Louis Moholo, drums;
Günter Sommer, percussion.
1.Stary Dobry Cirkus/Good old circus (Albert Mangelsdorff)(06.15)
2.Znameni dechu (Jirí Stivin)(09.10)
3.Dalsi Rovna Dzungle/Another flat jungle (Willem Breuker) (06.00)
4.Hudci (Rudolf Dasek)(08.55)
5.Prolinani (Antonin Matzner)(07.05)
6.Svetlo/Khanya (Louis T. Moholo)(05.00)
Recorded 13/15 March 1979 in Prague.