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Best of 2021

Cairo Free Jazz Ensemble

Music for Angela Davis / Heliopolis (2LP in bundle)

Label: Holidays Records

Format: 2LP in bundle

Genre: Jazz

In stock

€36.00
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This bundle includes both the Cairo Free Jazz Ensemble LPs released by Holidays Records, namely:

Cairo Free Jazz Ensemble "Music for Angela Davis" (LP, single-sided, 1971)
Cairo Free Jazz Ensemble "Heliopolis" (LP, 1970)



Cairo Free Jazz Ensemble "Music for Angela Davis" (LP, single-sided, 1971)

**500 copies. Deluxe edition with special printed inner and insert** One of the legendary projects of 20th Century Egyptian jazz, the Cairo FreeJazz Ensemble was formed by Hartmut Geerken - who sadly left this planet on October 21st - as an avant-garde offshoot of The Cairo Jazz Band - the first jazz big band in the country - formed by Salah Ragab in 1968.

Sinfully under-documented, in 1970 the band issued Heliopolis, what has since become one of the rarest, most celebrated and sought-after artefacts of global jazz, thankfully reissued by Holidays last year. An entirely singular work of towering proportions - blending the sounds of big band spiritual jazz, the music of the Middle East, and the fire and energy of freejazz - other than this lone LP, the ensemble resurfaced in 1983 with In Egypt, an absolutely astounding collaborative album with The Sun Ra Arkestra, before disappearing from view.

Remarkably, after decades of silence - leading the world to believe that was all there was - Holidays Records has unearthed a never before released recording of Cairo FreeJazz Ensemble from 1971, comprising Hartmut Geerken’s long form composition Music for Angela Davis, that encounters two full ensembles - conducted by Geerken himself and Hubertus Von Puttkamer respectively - joining forces to sculpt a singular effort of big band freejazz.

Recorded on December 4, 1971, at Nile Hall, Cairo, Music for Angela Davis clocks in at 24 minutes - rising and falling within a brilliant, structurally complex and fiery expression of call and response. It is collective improvisation in its most heightened and sophisticated form. As described by Geerken «One of my attempts with the Cairo FreeJazz Ensemble was my time-related, but timeless composition “Music for Angela Davis”. I divided the ensemble into two groups of roughly the same size, each with a conductor, and both groups played simultaneously, according to the different hand signals of the conductors, without one group reacting to or considering the other. The only two tone sequences consisted of the musicable notes of the name Angela Davis, i. e. a-g-e-a and d-a s. The composition was an attempt to get together in society through the medium of improvisation and a protest against the racial measurements of the American governments.»

Truly astounding on creative terms and as historically important as it comes, Holidays has offered a true slab of music gold with Cairo FreeJazz Ensemble’s Music for Angela Davis, leaving jaws on the floor, wondering where these recordings have been hiding for so many years. Issued as a single-sided LP in an edition of 500 copies, it’s impossible to recommend enough.



Cairo Free Jazz Ensemble "Heliopolis" (LP, 1970)

One of the great projects in Egyptian jazz, the Cairo Free Jazz Ensemble was formed by Salah Ragab and Hartmut Geerken as an avant-garde offshoot of The Cairo Jazz Band - the first jazz big band in the country - formed in 1968 when Ragab was appointed chief of Egypt’s Military Department of Music and had at his disposal a vast staff of musicians (almost three thousand!), an entire military building, and a full range collection of musical instruments.

When encountering this recording, issued in 1970, the deep resonance found between the ensemble and its American counterparts becomes startlingly clear. Heliopolis is a stunning blend of big band spiritual jazz, the music of the Middle East, and the fire and energy of free jazz, unveiling a deep creative resonance with the contemporaneous efforts of Pharaoh Sanders, Phil Cohran, and - of course - Sun Ra, combining jazz instrumentation and musical style with indigenous melodies and instruments to create a musical object with few parallels. The album is a throbbing, squealing, wild journey through the creative heights of sound channeling swirling, focused artistry that taps future and past in a single blow.

Copies of the original pressing are between the rarest and most sought-after records in canon of recorded jazz. This is the first ever authorized repress released under license from the artist.

Details
Cat. number: HOL-124 / HOL-135
Year: 2021

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