Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath

Biography

The Brotherhood of Breath was a big-band created in the late 1960s by South African pianist/composer Chris McGregor (1936-1990), essentially an extension of McGregor's previous band The Blue Notes.

The Brotherhood of Breath included many members of the South African expatriate community resident in London, including McGregor himself, Louis Moholo, Harry Miller, Mongezi Feza, Dudu Pukwana, (occasionally) Johnny Dyani; and many of the free jazz musicians who were based in London at the same time: Lol Coxhill, Evan Parker, Paul Rutherford, Harry Beckett, Marc Charig, Alan Skidmore, Mike Osborne, Elton Dean, Nick Evans, and John Surman. The personnel was fluid, depending on who was available. The music resembles a mixture of the hard-driving blues of Charles Mingus and the wild experimentalism of Sun Ra, but retains a unique feel due to the South African influences and the intelligent arrangements.

The original Brotherhood Of Breath ended in the late 70's, with the deaths of Mongezi Feza and Harry Miller (whose label, Ogun Records, released some of the Brotherhood's albums.) McGregor formed a second version of the group in France in the early 80's. In 1987, a third edition was formed with African and British musicians such as Annie Whitehead. In this incarnation the music was more tightly arranged and controlled, with less free improvisation.

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Links & Information

BBC Reviews

  1. Review of Bremen to Bridgwater

    Bremen to Bridgwater 2004

    Reviewed by Peter Marsh
    The wondrous Cuneiform label does the business again with a double CD of live material...
  2. Review of Travelling Somewhere

    Travelling Somewhere 2001

    Reviewed by Bill Tilland
    Some of the most vital and life-affirming big band jazz ever played by anyone,...