Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath

Chris McGregor (Dec. 24, 1936 — May 26, 1990) was a South African jazz pianist and bandleader with a musical career that spanned nearly three decades. He first emerged during the mid-1960s as part of the Blue Notes, a Cape Town sextet that also launched the careers of Dudu Pukwana, Johnny Dyani, and Louis Moholo. The band became a popular local draw and made its way into the European free-jazz circuit.

In 1968, the Blue Notes recorded the album Very Urgent, issued on Polydor and credited to the Chris McGregor Group. Subsequently, the sextet swelled into a big band with the addition of U.K. woodwind/brass players, including Alan Skidmore, Evan Parker, and Harry Beckett. This new lineup was called the Brotherhood of Breath, which issued namesake albums on Neon/RCA Victor circa 1971/72 and further live and studio titles at sporadic intervals well into the next decade.

In 1976, the Blue Notes nameplate was resurrected for its first proper album, Blue Notes for Mongezi, recorded in tribute to the band’s fallen trumpeter Mongezi Feza.

Brotherhood of Breath members: Chris McGregor (piano), Harry Beckett (trumpet), Mark Charig (trumpet), Nick Evans (trombone), Mongezi Feza (trumpet), Malcolm Griffiths (trombone), Harry Miller (double bass), Louis Moholo (drums), Mike Osborne (alto saxophone), Evan Parker (tenor saxophone), Dudu Pukwana (alto saxophone), Alan Skidmore (tenor saxophone), Gary Windo (tenor saxophone), Radu Malfatti (trombone)

Brotherhood of Breath discography:

  • Brotherhood of Breath (1971)
  • Brotherhood (1972)
  • Live at Willisau (live, 1974)
  • Procession (live, 1978)
  • Yes Please (1981)
  • Country Cooking (1988)

Chris McGregor solo discography:

  • Very Urgent (1968 • Chris McGregor Group)
  • Piano Song Vol 1 (1977)
  • Piano Song Vol 2 (1977)
  • In His Good Time (live, 1979)

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