October 14, 2008
Fledg'ling Records
Jazz, World Fusion, African Jazz, Avant-Garde Jazz

Album Review

Recorded in 1969, these sessions were released only 39 years later. They took place at the same time as the sessions for the Chris McGregor Septet album Up to Earth, also abandoned at the time and unearthed in 2008 by the Fledg'ling label. Our Prayer features McGregor in a rare small setting, a trio with bassist Barre Phillips and drummer Louis Moholo. The 45-minute set runs the gamut of the pianist's range, for an album that might have been heralded as a landmark, had it been released then. In retrospect, it offers a beautiful, progressive listen, and a valuable look into McGregor's musical thought, right before the formation of his Brotherhood of Breath. Our Prayer opens with a delicate tune entitled "Church Mouse," a whimsical Monk-esque ditty. Clocking in at four minutes, this is the shortest and most immediately enjoyable piece of the set. "Moonlight Aloe" already sees the trio stretching out the jazz format, introducing more clusters, more textural playing, more free-form excursions, while retaining a strong melodic component. Phillips' "Spike Nard" (the only track not penned by McGregor) is a solo-group-solo feature that showcases the close interaction of the trio. What would have been side two of the LP consists of a single track, "Our Prayer," 26 minutes of free jazz, with little notated material, a lot of deep timbral and dynamic explorations, and the surprise appearance of an alarm clock. It is a demanding but rewarding track, full of passion and intelligence from all three musicians. This album does not have the boasting joy of a Brotherhood of Breath record, nor the moody bop attitude of McGregor's earlier material. It is in a league of its own, pensive and brooding. You can almost hear the pianist cooking up his next big step -- a step so big he would shelve this and the Up to Earth session to clear the way for it.
François Couture, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Church Mouse
  2. Moonlight Aloe
  3. Spike Nard
  4. Our Prayer
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