Intakt Records

Album Review

The ironies are everywhere: the aging cream of European free jazz performing radically as ever, continuing what they have been doing so well for decades; the reincarnation of a once shocking ensemble that may sound different in the early 2000s but is just as extreme as it was in the 1960s -- though by 2002 it was firmly planted in a tradition it helped form. The Globe Unity Orchestra's first recording in more than a decade is a wild ride down memory lane -- but this alley is laced with darkened unending nightmares that make the hairs stand on edge. They are all there: the amazing Evan Parker, the rambunctious Peter Brötzmann, the versatile Manfred Schoof, back to form, and even the notoriously raw and un-British Englishman Paul Rutherford. All together there are only nine of them, but you'd never guess it from listening to the gargantuan, sprawling, almost always fascinating live track that constitutes the recording: the sound is that of a full-fledged 20-plus piece orchestra. Brilliant pianist/composer and leader Alexander von Schlippenbach never lets it get out of control, although there is no written score. Ebbing and flowing like waves anticipating a storm, and interspersed with often spectacular solos, the group verges on anarchy over and over again before one of the bandmembers inevitably stands forward to take the reins. For those who like it hot, no, burning...and, by the way, who was it who said that old people can't dance?
Steven Loewy, Rovi