CHRIS MCGREGOR

Progressive Big Band / Avant-Garde Jazz • South Africa
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Christopher McGregor (24 December 1936 – 26 May 1990), was a South African jazz pianist, bandleader and composer born in Somerset West, South Africa.

McGregor grew up in the then Transkei (now part of the Eastern Cape Province) where his father was headmaster at a Church of Scotland mission institution called Blythswood. Here he was exposed to the music of the local amaXhosa people. This music is a rich and varied music which pervaded every aspect of life - from formal rituals to the casual activities and encounters of everyday life, like herding cattle or just walking home in the evening. Music was everywhere. And this music, as explained in Dave Dargie's seminal book Xhosa Music, is complex. Dargie mentions the following as examples of this complexity which might be seen to have influenced McGregor in his own music, both as composser/arranger and as band leader: "... a great number of style
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Live at Willisau Switzerland 27th JanuaryLive at Willisau Switzerland 27th January
Ogun Records 2011
$11.99
$19.70 (used)
Brotherhood of Breath-Procession-Live at TouloBrotherhood of Breath-Procession-Live at Toulo
Ogun 2014
$13.96
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Sea BreezesSea Breezes
Fledg'Ling Uk 1987
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CHRIS MCGREGOR Discography

CHRIS MCGREGOR albums / top albums

CHRIS MCGREGOR Jazz - The African Sound album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Jazz - The African Sound
Progressive Big Band 1963
CHRIS MCGREGOR Very Urgent album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Very Urgent
Avant-Garde Jazz 1968
CHRIS MCGREGOR Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath album cover 3.75 | 2 ratings
Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath
Progressive Big Band 1970
CHRIS MCGREGOR Brotherhood album cover 3.00 | 2 ratings
Brotherhood
Progressive Big Band 1971
CHRIS MCGREGOR Piano Song Vol 1 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Piano Song Vol 1
Avant-Garde Jazz 1977
CHRIS MCGREGOR Piano Song Vol 2 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Piano Song Vol 2
Avant-Garde Jazz 1977
CHRIS MCGREGOR Country Cooking album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Country Cooking
Progressive Big Band 1988
CHRIS MCGREGOR Up to Earth album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Up to Earth
Avant-Garde Jazz 2008
CHRIS MCGREGOR Our Prayer album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Our Prayer
Avant-Garde Jazz 2008

CHRIS MCGREGOR EPs & splits

CHRIS MCGREGOR live albums

CHRIS MCGREGOR Live at Willisau album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live at Willisau
Progressive Big Band 1974
CHRIS MCGREGOR Procession album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Procession
Progressive Big Band 1978
CHRIS MCGREGOR In His Good Time album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
In His Good Time
Avant-Garde Jazz 1979
CHRIS MCGREGOR Yes Please - Angoulème 1981 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Yes Please - Angoulème 1981
Progressive Big Band 1981
CHRIS MCGREGOR En concert a Banlieues Bleues (with Archie Shepp) album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
En concert a Banlieues Bleues (with Archie Shepp)
Progressive Big Band 1989
CHRIS MCGREGOR Memorial Concert (aka In Memoriam) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Memorial Concert (aka In Memoriam)
Progressive Big Band 1994
CHRIS MCGREGOR Thunderbolt 9as Chris McGregor & the South African Exiles' Thunderbolt) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Thunderbolt 9as Chris McGregor & the South African Exiles' Thunderbolt)
Avant-Garde Jazz 1997
CHRIS MCGREGOR Travelling Somewhere album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Travelling Somewhere
Progressive Big Band 2001
CHRIS MCGREGOR Bremen to Bridgwater album cover 3.00 | 2 ratings
Bremen to Bridgwater
Progressive Big Band 2004
CHRIS MCGREGOR Eclipse at Dawn album cover 3.00 | 2 ratings
Eclipse at Dawn
Progressive Big Band 2008
CHRIS MCGREGOR Sea Breezes: Solo Piano - Live in Durban 1987 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Sea Breezes: Solo Piano - Live in Durban 1987
Avant-Garde Jazz 2012

CHRIS MCGREGOR demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

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CHRIS MCGREGOR movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

CHRIS MCGREGOR Reviews

CHRIS MCGREGOR En concert a Banlieues Bleues (with Archie Shepp)

Live album · 1989 · Progressive Big Band
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snobb
South Africa-born son of Scottish church missioner, pianist Chris McGregor, made his name after his relocation to London and playing for some years a, quite unique for the time, mix of soulful South African tunes, American free jazz and Canterbury scene elements with his Brotherhood Of Breath big band. In 1989, his orchestra toured Europe with special guest American sax player Archie Shepp, their concert in Paris was recorded and released on the tiny French label 52 Rue Est.

"En Concert a Banlieues Bleues" is a strange recording. The sound quality is not the best, but acceptable for a live festival recording. The whole concert does not sound like one collective work though - its more similar to one of those fest nights when a few artists share the stage and (probably for the first time ever) play a few songs together. Brotherhood of Breath, improved with South African singer Sonti Mndebele (who worked as back-up vocalist for Donna Summer, Tina Turner, Paul Simon, Sting and many others) plays well orchestrated African jazz with a stronger then usual African element (particularly Sonti Mndebele's singing techniques), at the same time, Shepp stays rooted in his hard bop. No serious collaboration between the two quite different musical genres could be found, so the better moments are those when the band or Shepp are just soloing alone.

And - there is also an out of tune piano all night long. They say Chris had wanted to stop the release of the album, but it still would have been released because of contractual obligations. Some months later, after "En Concert a Banlieues Bleues" was released, Chris fell ill on tour and died so it stays his last album released (lots of material was released posthumously though).

In all, not the album for McGregor or Shepp newcomers, but it could be an interesting release for serious fans of both artists.

CHRIS MCGREGOR Up to Earth

Album · 2008 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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Sean Trane
In between two attempts at creating his big band formation, McGregor did record with a smaller formation this rather “difficult” album, whose line-up would be the spine of his BoB project, born the following year. Actually all but contrabassist Danny Thompson (better known with The Pentangle or John Martyn) were either old South African expats or soon-to-be collabs. With a triple-sax attack (Surman, Pukwana and Parker, and fellow countrymen drummer Muholo and trumpeter Feza, we’re facing a highly-policed formation that never hesitate to cross the border of dissonance and a semi-controlled improvisation XXX. Although by the end of the 60’s, Joe Boyd had evolved from a jazz camp into a folk or folk-rock king, he still took time to produce this rather un-trad album in London studios, but the session for that album was never released until the mid-00’s.

Only four lengthy tracks (two aside), none any easier than the rest, even if the short half-track Yickitikee is probably the most accessible of the album with its gypsy-jazz influence. One of the characteristic of this album is that the mood is generally happy, which might be somewhat surprising, since one doesn’t associate dissonant improvisations with frivolity or joy, but rather seriousness and depth or even anger and revolt born out the civil rights fight across the Atlantic, despite the South-African fight against its own white-suppressors. So, if you’re fearing an over-the-top avant-garde album, you’re right, but for some reason Up To Earth is not as arduous or repulsive to a trad-jazzhead as one might expect from the genre, despite the album not being the usual big-band that McGregor was well-known for.

CHRIS MCGREGOR Bremen to Bridgwater

Live album · 2004 · Progressive Big Band
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Sean Trane
Yet another Cuneiform BoB live release, this time made from three different sessions and two fairly different eras. Indeed if the big-band’s sound had somewhat evolved from mid-71 and mid-75 by progressing and exploring ever further down the road, it’s always surprising to see how most of the members remained fidel (well somewhat, anyway) for such a long time. Indeed, you’ll find the usual suspect, like Beckett, Charig, Evans, Feza, Griffiths, Miller, Moholo, Osborne, Parker, Pukwana, Skidmore and Windo, but you’ll also hear Elton Dean, and a few more

The 71 Radio Bremen broadcast opens on the goofy Funky Roots March (that usually served to close sets), but the set relies on many studio-origined tracks, like the repetitive Now, Bride, Think Of Something, etc…Well the band hovers from a slightly avant-garde big band to a still to be perfected improvising and dissonant band, but to more casual fans, the former trend dominates this set. To close the first disc, two pieces from a UK gig

On the second disc, another 75 gig, recorded at the same place (but to be honest I find the sound a bit shaky), which hogs the whole CD and barely feature any tracks that were originally recorded in the studios, As surprising as it may seem, the BoB is definyely less extreme that night, almost trad big-band like, but this only until that Restless track arrives, then all hell brakes loose, and the BoB boys go wild blowing in their horns. But most of the tracks of this set are a little to repetititititive to my taste, even if it allows sometimes some interesting solos. Well this third Cuneiform release (after Travelling and Eclipse) might appear the more complete, but the relatively poor sound of the second disc might be a slight deterrent to some

CHRIS MCGREGOR Travelling Somewhere

Live album · 2001 · Progressive Big Band
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Sean Trane
Chronologically second Cuneiform label BoB album (but first released), Travelling Somewhere dates from Jan 73 and was recorded in Bremen for a Radio broadcast, so it is predated by the Eclipse At Dawn release. Again with a relatively stable line-up (only Evan Parker replacing Alan Skidmore), the BoB played a three-set gig. As time wore on, BoB was getting more experimental or extreme and the dissonant and free passages were taking the lion’s share of the sets, as can be heard between the EaD set and the present

As you can imagine with three normal sets, choices had to be made due to time restrictions of a single CD, so some tracks had to be faded out to be fitted on the album, most notably the closing Do It, which you can hear on other live BoB albums. From their two studio album released before the present broadcast, only MRA, The Bride, Think Of Something and Do It are present, the rest being concert faves, and not necessarily the obvious crowd pleasers. Even the more gentle numbers like Bride are given a fairly rough treatment with some sceachy saxes. If McGregor’s adventures on the London jazz scene are unavoidable, I wouldn’t certify you that his works is really essential to traditional or casual jazz fans, but avant-garde heads will certainly think so. Choosing between EaD and the present TS might prove difficult, but if you’re more trad than avant, the former might please you better.

CHRIS MCGREGOR Eclipse at Dawn

Live album · 2008 · Progressive Big Band
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Sean Trane
A posthumous live release, Eclipse At Dawn is much in the tradition of the excellent Cuneiform label it was issued on: indeed, one of the label’s speciality was to find British jazz scene artistes’ radio and TV broadcasts recorded throughout Germany and sometimes elsewhere, be this for Surman, Soft Machine, Brotherhood Of Breath and more. In the present case, the label has issued two different broadcasts or concerts, this one from Nov 71 in Berlin, the other (Travelling Somewhere) dating from January 73 in Bremen. The amazing thing about such a big band is that the line-up remained really constant throughout the 70’s, with only a few minor and temporary changes. As pianist Chris McGregor is a South African, his group also featured a nucleus of SA expats, like drummer Moholo, bassist Miller, trumpeter Mongezi Feza (actually absent from the present gig), and saxman Dudu Pukwana. The British contingent included London-scene stalwarts and mainstays such as Charig, Griffiths, Evans, Beckett, Osborne, Windo, Skidmore and accompanying club-owner (and non-sax player that night) Ronnie Scott doing the introduction and outroduction.

A typical early 70’s BoB set list only included a few tracks taken from their studio albums, like Nick Tete, The Bride, Do It, while the rest were being concert-standards that only saw a release their sole live Willisau album of the times. And even those album-linked tracks were not always close to the studio version as can be seen with The Bride (extended to 15-mins) or Tete (over 8-mins instead of 6), but they’re still easily recognizable. Actually, the overall live-feel thing is much less dissonant and free than the present concert, although there are passages nearing the chaotic, especially in the ending section of the numbers played of the aptly-named Restless.

Closing the set is the goofy Funky Boots March, a piece that dissolves into Ronnie Scott’s closing comments. Well, should you own only one BoB album, you might as well choose one of the two live Cuneiform albums, which tend to represent the band best, and feature a full set. But if McGregor’s adventures on the London jazz scene are unavoidable, I wouldn’t certify you that his works is really essential to traditional or casual jazz fans, but avant-garde heads will certainly think so.

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