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Free Jam

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Album Review

An extraordinary recording, this two-CD set captures trumpeter Mongezi Feza fronting the remarkable Bernt Rosengren Quartet, with Okay Temiz added on percussion. Recorded in 1972, but not released until 2004 on the Swedish label, Ayler Records, the ten tracks constituting nearly two hours of music are a major find, despite the somewhat sub-par recording quality and the truncated nature of some of the pieces. As is customary with this label, the production quality is first-rate, with meticulous notes contained in the 20-page booklet, superb packaging, and a serious effort to clean up the sound. For those familiar only with Feza's work with the Blue Notes, his ability to create astonishing solos at lightening speed in a largely unfettered environment may come as a pleasant surprise. On some of the longer tracks, such as "Group Notes III," Feza sounds like Don Cherry on speed, with wickedly jagged lines that are uniquely his own, producing one of the decade's most impressive trumpet stylists. While the entire album is immersed in the so-called jazz avant-garde , Feza's melodic constructs are eminently listenable, in the way that Ornette Coleman's early works were. Feza incorporates the advances of the 1960s and immerses himself in ecstatic blowing, with an appealingly upbeat confidence. The Bernt Rosengren Quartet may be largely forgotten now (at least outside of Sweden), but they were one of the best of the Swedish free jazz groups from the late '60s through the mid-'70s, and they are in great form here. The addition of the Turkish percussionist, Okay Temiz, who at the time was rehearsing in a trio with Feza and legendary bassist Johnny Dyani, adds a strong underpinning to this piano-less group. The results are at once invigorating and thrilling, and despite the less than stellar recording quality, this is a critical document of both adventurous Swedish jazz, and the incredible playing of Mongezi Feza


Born: 1945 in Queenstown, South Africa

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s

Mongezi Feza began playing the trumpet very early, and by his teens was already playing professionally in groups, taking part in the very popular jazz competitions. Chris McGregor spotted him there and invited him to join the Blue Notes; with them he fled the country in 1964, playing first at the Antibes Jazz Festival and then in Zurich, London, and Copenhagen. Feza was a member of the ensembles McGregor led and played with Dudu Pukwana in his groups Assagai and Spear in the early '70s. In Flute...
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Free Jam, Mongezi Feza
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