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Album Review

NU! is the long-lost debut album by Danish avant-garde trumpeter Hugh Steinmetz. Recorded and originally released on the Debut label in 1966, the session was reissued on CD by SteepleChase in late 2001. The reissue includes not only the original program in its entirety, but also six tracks from a demo session recorded one month earlier, thus bringing to light what is in essence an alternate take of the entire album, minus the odd, lullaby-like "Peters Fodseldag." (There's a precipitous drop in recording quality between the two sessions, but that's to be expected.) Leading a Danish sextet, Steinmetz drinks deeply from the well of '60s free jazz and is clearly influenced by Don Cherry. Some of the three-horn polyphony brings Sam Rivers' writing to mind. Through Mark Gardner's liner notes listeners learn what became of these musicians. Drummer Bo Thrige Andersen is deceased. Saxophonist Niels Harrit plays but is mainly a chemist. Pianist Per Aage Brandt is a linguist, bassist Steffen Andersen a Baroque music specialist. Alto saxophonist Karsten Vogel is active as an improviser and plays with Steinmetz. As for Steinmetz, his first effort as a leader still sounds fresh and his avant-garde aesthetic remains influential. ~ David R. Adler, Rovi

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