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Music From Europe by Gunter Hampel Group

German vibist Gunter Hampel is among the early pioneers of Europe’s progressive jazz realm. Recorded in Holland on December 21, 1966, this reissue of the original LP sounds amazingly nouveau, considering the forty-two year time lapse since its initial release. Featuring a then very young Dutch multi-reedman Willem Breuker and a crack rhythm section, this panorama of genre-bashing jazz iterations is framed upon several avant type mutations and forward thinking propositions.

Breuker went on to enjoy a storied career as co-founder of the Holland-based Instant Composers Pool and his longstanding Kollektief unit. Yet here, it is curiously interesting to uncover some of the building blocks that spawned such a creative music scene. And with the twenty-one minute opener and suite titled "Assemblage (suite dedicated to Wolfgang Kopetech)," Hampel steers the quartet via a seamless whirlwind of linear movements built on odd-phrasings, and a panacea of divergent angles. While a lucid sense of the dynamic counts as a prevalent factor amid the artists’ roaring musical opuses and their depiction of boys at play. In addition, several movements are designed with a razor’s edge mode of free-form improvisation.

It’s a landmark album indeed. No doubt, Hampel and Breuker loom as multitasking machines, where they toggle between various percussion and reed instruments throughout. On "Heroicredo1ohysiognomystery (dedicated to Eric Dolphy)," the soloists expand and contract the overall flow, partly due to Breuker’s wily clarinet lines and the rhythm section’s pacesetting cadence. Then on the album’s closer "Make Love Not War to Everybody (a piece in 4 parts)," they ring up notions of avant-garde nature music, topped off by frenetic reeds and a transcendental like motif, shaded with a wordless mantra.

Hearing is believing folks. Therefore, many jazz aficionados would find it difficult to discern that this incredibly adventurous outing was recorded back in 1966! (Essential listening for progressive/free-jazz aficionados.... )

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Gunter Hampel Group
  • CD Title: Music From Europe
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Reissue Original Release: 1966
  • Record Label: ESP-Disk
  • Musicians: William Breuker (soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, baritone sax), Gunter Hampel (vibraphone, bass clarinet, bass, percussion), Piet Veening (bass), Pierre Courbois (percussion)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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