11 July 2010

Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath with Archie Shepp en concert a Banlieues Bleues

What with the World Cup in football finale a day away, I thought it was about time to sneak in some South African music here. Another good reason is that this one was requested on a jazz-related mailing list. So therefore ...

This was the final installment of the Brotherhood of Breath, recorded at the Banlieues Bleues festival in France in 1989. The previous year had seen the release of "Country Cooking", a studio recording with many of the players on this live concert. By the late 80s, the only remaining from the original BoB was Harry Beckett, apart from McGregor, of course. A couple of tunes from that record was carried over to this cd, the title track the most obvious one.

An added delight was the appearance of Archie Shepp who contributed a couple of his own tunes and can be heard on tenor throughout the whole concert. A worthy replacement for Dudu Pukwana, one might say, though BoB without Dudu was not quite the same. The South African influence is quite strong on the first four tracks, while the latter three veers into more standard jazz territory and the penultimate one with the added treat of some Sheppian vocals culminating in a jouyous and swinging concert through and through. The first and fourth tracks features the vocals of Sonti Mndebélé, a fresh member adding a touch of sisterhood. Finally, the album features a piano very much out of tune. A pianist's curse, I suppose.

1. Sangena (Chris McGregor/Sonti Mndebélé)
2. Mayebuye (Chris McGregor)
3. Country Cooking (Chris McGregor)
4. Jikele (Traditional)
5. Presentation
6. Steam (Archie Shepp)
7. Sweet as Honey (Chris McGregor)
8. Bessie Smith's Blues (Archie Shepp)

The full line-up can be found in the scans with the attached files.

Here are a couple of photos from Maxine McGregor's book:


kinabalu said...




charlie said...

Great. Two of my favourites together.

Wallofsound said...


wightdj said...

Quite a treat, thanks.

amnesia said...

From Maxine McGregor’s book:

Most members of the Brotherhood felt for Chris a great affection, tempered with respect (not an altogether common attitude toward bandleaders), as trombonist Annie Whitehead affirms: “I first heard the band in the 70’s – I was a big fan but had no confidence at that time. When Dave invited me down and I found myself playing with Chris, that was unbelievable. He was gentle and all-encompassing. He was just so great, really great to work with. I remember when we did the things with Archie Shepp in Paris, that was really, really great. I play the solo on the song “Country Cooking”, and I remember Chris coming into the rehearsal with that – and this was an example of his kindness, because he kind of like, figured out what you could play on – and he came onto the rehearsal saying, “I’ve got something for you Annie!” And then when we worked with Shepp in Paris, Chris and I were on the floor, and there were sheets and sheets of paper, and we were trying to figure out what went where and cellotaping them together. And Archie came into the rehearsal and said, “Hello, Hello” I was standing back there because I was shy, and the first thing he said to Chris was, “Hey, you know that tune?” And he hummed “Country Cooking.” “I want a solo on that one.” And I thought, “Oh, that’s my solo!” And I looked at Chris and he looked at me and didn’t say anything. I thought, he’s letting me down; he’s supposed to tell Archie Shepp, “That’s Annie’s solo.” But that wasn’t Chris’s style. He’d let you work it out for yourself. So just before the gig I said to Archie, “I usually play a solo on that one and it’s the only time I get to blow. So what do you say, should I have a blow first and then you could have a blow? Or maybe we could blow together? And I’m thinking to myself, I’m talking to Archie Shepp here! And he said, “Yeah, let’s blow together.” And it was just lovely, it was really lovely. And that wouldn’t have happened if Chris hadn’t let us work it out ourselves. He just seemed to know when to let things be, and that’s something I’ve never been able to get together for myself.”

longbranch said...

Great one, thanks for this! Not my favorite Brotherhood date, but every one of them is worth hearing many times.
But I have a question: do any of you possibly have the Chris McGregor 1970s solo dates released by... I forget the French label, long out of print, from Toulouse or the southwest?? Could anyone post it, pretty please???

kinabalu said...

I have Piano Song vol. 1 and 2. They were posted on a now defunct blog named Church Number Nine some years back. Fortunately, the links are still active. Here they are:



Chris McGegor also made another solo piano record, In His Good Time, for the Ogun label, which can be found here:


kinabalu said...


Thanks for the fine excerpt from the Maxine McGregor book. I'll add a couple of photos to the main post.

longbranch said...

Kinabalu, you're amazing! Many thanks for the McGregor solo links. I only ever heard one of the Piano Songs albums. What joy!

Bhowani said...

Thanks for your help Kinabalu ! Much appreciated ! You've made my day !