Label: Gotta Groove Records
**2021 repress with different artwork! Only few copies available, in process of stocking.** "While often sidestepped, the world of avant-garde music is closely aligned with the social and political realms. It is not only the accumulation of radical sounds, but series of equally radical actions through which glimpses of possibilities and hope can be gleaned. There are few better examples of this than the revolutionary forms of improvised music that emerged from African American communities during the 1960s, '70s, and '80s.
Often falling under the banner of “free-jazz” - building on the early, visionary efforts of Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, and Cecil Taylor - across the country, numerous artists and collectives embarked on the creation of a new music of freedom and open communication, often carried within the larger social and political movement of self-determination and afrocentrism, giving way to the founding of a near countless number of artist run spaces and record labels. Among the fiercest and greatest documents of this movement is a lone LP - Al-Fatihah - self-released in Ohio by Black Unity Trio in 1969, the reissue of which stands before us now. A hard cut diamond of pure fire and artistry, it’s a good as improvised music from this era gets and absolutely not to be missed.
The Black Unity Trio was Yusuf Mumin on Alto Saxophone, Abdul Wadud on Cello and Bass, and Haasan-Al-hut on Percussion. Very little is known about the group itself. Both Mumin and Al-hut recorded very little after the release of the Trio’s lone LP. Wadud, on the other hand, become a crucial figure within the NY loft era, and arguably the most important cellist ever to appear in the idiom of free jazz, going on to produce a seminal solo LP, By Myself, working with his own bands extensively, and recording with an astounding cast of players over the years, from Julius Hemphill, Leroy Jenkins, and Human Arts Ensemble, to Arthur Blythe, Frank Lowe, George Lewis, Cecil Taylor, Muhal Richard Abrams, Sam Rivers, and numerous others.
Because of Wadud’s presence in the the Black Unity Trio, it is easy to relegate the importance of Al-Fatihah to being a crucial, early insight into his career. It is this unquestionably, but doing so also risks relegating the incredible quality of the album to artifact status. It entirely stands on its own on artistic terms, while doubling as an important and rare document of artists working in improvised music outside of major centres like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.
Ranging from intricate, textural passages, flirting around some of the territory explored by bands like The Art Ensemble of Chicago during this rough moment, to the type of full on hard blown fire the one might expect to encounter across the ESP catalog, all taken into radically different and singular realms by Wudad’s cello playing, the album has few equivalents.
Raw and emotive, soulful and thoughtful to points of profound depth, and entirely liberated and free, there’s plenty of reasons why collectors hunt the globe for this LP, making it one of the greatest holy grails of private press free jazz out there. Six cuts of pure and immersive improvised gold, this is as good as free jazz gets. Absolutely essential!
This limited edition sequentially numbered groovecoated pressing features:
– different artwork
– sourced from original 1968 scotch 201 master tapes
– tape restoration & remastering done bt multi-grammy award winning engineer paul blakemore
– lacquers cut from analog tape (all analog chain) by clint holley & dave polster (well made music cutting studio)
– gotta groove proprietary groovecoated plating technology
– single pocket jacket printed on recycled board, with lyric sheet insert featuring ras moshe’s extended liner notes.
– gotta groove anti-static rice paper sleeves