Atavistic Unheard Music Series:
A Consumer Guide

Talking and Drum Solos
1946-54 [2004], Atavistic 241

Footnotes to jazz history produced by Frederic Ramsey Jr.; old brass bands sounding ancient, King Oliver's drummer feeling spooky. B

Spaceship Lullaby
1954-60 [2004], Atavistic 243

Home-recorded rehearsal tapes of bad vocal groups backed by little more than Ra's piano. As weird as you'd figure, but not as weird as you might hope. B-

1966-67 [2005], Atavistic 250

One of the earliest prime examples of new thing in Europe, influenced by Ayler but with Hugh Steinmetz's trumpet piled thick on top of Franz Beckerlee's alto sax it is denser and richly brassy. B+

Underground Railroad
1968-69 [2001], Atavistic, 2CD

His first album, limited to 500 copies on CJR Records, here greatly expanded with the earlier but previously unreleased "Live at Holy Cross Monastery." The album, inspired by the previous century's escape from slavery, tingles with excitement, especially when McPhee switches from tenor sax to piercing trumpet. The live tape, with two extra players, sounds fainter and takes longer to come together, which it does in a smashing drum solo. A-

1970 [2004], Atavistic 234

Dutch unknowns improvising frantically, lucky enough to be joined by the great South African drummer Louis Moholo, who miraculously manages to tie it all together. B+

Fuck de Boere
1968-70 [2001], Atavistic 211

Two sprawling pieces: a version of "Machine Gun," the big bang of European free jazz, and the title piece, named for South African bassist Dyani's considered opinion of those who then ran his homeland. B

Globe Unity 67 & 70
1967-70 [2001], Atavistic 223

This was the first large scale free jazz orchestra, captured in two previously unreleased radio transcripts. The first group had 19 musicians, built mostly around the small groups of Peter Brötzmann and Manfred Schoof, and fleshed out mostly with German musicians. Their 34:11 piece is loud and cacophonous, but eventually coheres around Schlippenbach's acid piano etched against blaring pulses from the horns. The second group is more broadly European, if not yet Global -- among those joining in are Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Kenny Wheeler, Paul Rutherford, Tomasz Stanko, Han Bennink, and Paul Lovens. Their shorter (17:54) piece seems less focused, but repays close listening in its scattered fragments. B+

1971 [2000], Atavistic

Mike Kull's piano exudes Sun Ra space vibes while drummer Harold E. Smith keeps busy; McPhee works in patches, favoring tenor sax over trumpet, rising to a powerful climax, but more often working in a subtler vein. B+

Pakistani Pomade
1972 [2003], Atavistic 240


FMP 130
1973 [2003], Atavistic 244

Little bits are amusing, as when Van Hove breaks into a little boogie woogie, which Bennink then tears to shreds, but the norm here is chaos amplified by fire and fury. B

Nerve Beats
1973 [2000], Atavistic 206

An amazing drummer, as the cymbal thrash on "Spooky Drums" more than points out. The title piece moves into a nother realm with a primitive drum machine serving as backdrop for Bennink's free association on trombone, clarinet, whatever, before he returns to form, banging on anything he can reach. B+

On the Waiting List
1973 [2004], Atavistic 235

Two, three, many horns pop out of the free rhythmic turmoil, the efforts at harmony mutating in strange ways. B+

Hamburg '74
1974 [2004], Atavistic

The tight discipline of the choir is poignantly absurd in the midst of all these anarchist horns, where the idea of bringing down the house is more like blowing it up. B

1977 [2004], Atavistic 247

Dudek pursues Coltrane's ghost on two saxes, flute and shenai -- an Indian oboe, like blowing into a buzzsaw. Bass and drums add dimensions, the sort of fully alert interplay that free jazz aspires to but rarely achieves. A-

Hal Russell's Chemical Feast:
(1979 [2001], Atavistic 203)

Russell was the odd man out of Chicago's avant-garde. He was already 53 when this live tape was recorded, and this is evidently the earlier item in his discography. He started recording albums as the NRG Ensemble in 1981. After his death in 1992 the group carried on for a couple of albums, replacing Russell with Ken Vandermark. Russell's sidekick during this period was Mars Williams, who's dabbled in rock groups (Psychedelic Furs) and acid jazz (Liquid Soul) as well as more avant concerns (NRG, the Vandermark Five, Peter Brötzmann's Chicago Tentet). Two things worth noting here: one is the sound is crystal clear and right in your face; the other is the extreme nastiness of the sax right from the start (not knowing anything else about Spider Middleman, I'm guessing Williams is responsible). The first piece is by far the best, based on a classic Ornette Coleman tune, which they actually reprise recognizably in the last minute. Russell mostly drums, and George Southgate plays some very striking vibes. The saxes (including Russell on one cut) are loud and nasty, and the NRG is surging throughout. B+

Burning in Stockholm
1981 [2004], Atavistic

Wallin's piano rocks, setting up huge cascades of rhythm, similar to Keith Jarrett's famous Köln Concert, but tougher; moreover, bass and drums are constantly engaged. A-

Berlin Djungle
1984 [2004], Atavistic

Machine Gun with silencers, the clarinets' softer tones muffle the usual squall, making it easier to parse the music. B+

Nut Music: As Free as the Squirrels
1976-88 [2001], Atavistic 220

Kevin Whitehead's clarinet solo on "Criminal Girlfriend" is free jazz weird, but a curve after they started off with post-Stooges verbal chop suey, something about Black/White or vice versa; not easy to classify, but just when you think improvised hardcore comes close they scat or break out the whistles. B


  • Baby Dodds: Talking and Drum Solos [1946, 1954; Atavistic 241: 2004]
  • Sun Ra: Spaceship Lullaby [1954-1960; Atavistic 243: 2004]
  • Sun Ra and His Arkestra: Music From Tomorrow's World [1960; Atavistic 237: 2002]
  • The Contemporary Jazz Quintet: Actions [1966-1967; Atavistic 250: 2005]
  • Tom Prehn Kvartet: Tom Prehn Kvartet [1967.02.05; Atavistic 221: 2001]
  • The Clifford Thornton New Art Ensemble: Freedom & Unity [1967.07.22; Third World; Atavistic 225]
  • Peter Brötzmann Sextet/Quartet: For Adolphe Sax [1967.06-09; Atavistic 230]
  • Joe McPhee Quartet: Underground Railroad [1968-1969; Atavistic 2CD: 2001]
  • Peter Brötzmann Sextet/Quartet: Nipples [1969.04; Atavistic 205]
  • Peter Brötzmann Sextet/Quartet: More Nipples [1969.04; Atavistic 236]
  • Alexander Von Schlippenbach: The Living Music [1969.04; Atavistic 231]
  • Manfred Schoof: European Echoes [1969.06; Atavistic 232]
  • Peter Brötzmann/Fred Van Hove/Han Bennink: Balls [1970.08; FMP 20; Atavistic 233: 2002]
  • Guillermo Gregorio: Otra Musica Collection [1963-70; Atavistic 209: 2000]
  • Peter Brötzmann: Fuck de Boere [1968.03.24, 1970.03.22; Atavistic 211: 2001]
  • Kees Hazevoet: Pleasure [1970.09.06; Atavistic 234: 2004]
  • Globe Unity Orchestra: Globe Unity 67 & 70 [1967.10.21, 1970.11.07; Atavistic 223: 2001]
  • Joe McPhee: Nation Time [1970.12; Atavistic 201: 2000]
  • Joe McPhee: Trinity [1971; Atavistic 2000]
  • Sven-Åke Johansson: Schlingerland [1972.10; SAJ 1; Atavistic 212: 2000]
  • Alexander von Schlippenbach Trio: Pakistani Pomade [1972.11; FMP 110: 1973; Atavistic 240: 2003]
  • Luther Thomas Human Arts Ensemble: Funky Donkey Vols. I & II [1973; Atavistic 215: 2001]
  • Luther Thomas & Human Arts Ensemble: Banana: The Lost Session, St. Louis, 1973 [1973; Atavistic 227: 2002]
  • Peter Brötzmann/Fred Van Hove/Han Bennink: FMP 130 [1973.02.25; FMP 130; Atavistic 244: 2003]
  • Han Bennink: Nerve Beats [1973.09.27; Atavistic 206: 2000]
  • Mario Schiano: On the Waiting List [1973.12.17-19; Atavistic 235: 2004]
  • Globe Unity Orchestra & the Choir of the NDR-Broadcast: Hamburg '74 [1974; Atavistic: 2004]
  • Fred Van Hove: Complete Vogel Recordings [1972-74; Atavistic 229, 2CD]
  • John Tchicai-Irene Schweizer Group: Willi the Pig: Live at the Willisau Jazz Festival [1975; Atavistic 210]
  • Alexander Von Schlippenbach: Hunting the Snake [1975.09; Atavistic 213]
  • Mount Everest Trio: Waves From Albert Ayler [1975.11.01; Atavistic 202: 2000]
  • Haazz & Company: Unlawful Noise [1976.10.27; Atavistic 212: 2001]
  • Gerd Dudek/Buschi Niebergall/Edward Vesala: Open [1977.04.07-09; FMP 570: 1979; Atavistic 247: 2004]
  • Fred Anderson Quartet: Dark Day + Live in Verona [1979; Atavistic 218, 2CD: 2001]
  • Steve Beresford/Tristan Honsinger/David Toop/Toshinori Kondo: Double Indemnity + Imitation of Life [1977-79; Atavistic 224]
  • Hal Russell's Chemical Feast: Elixir [1979.03.05; Atavistic 203: 2001]
  • Fred Anderson Quartet: The Milwaukee Tapes Vol. 1 [1980; Atavistic 204: 2000]
  • Leo Cuypers: Heavy Days Are Here Again [1981; BVHaast; Atavistic 207]
  • Per Henrik Wallin/Johnny Dyani/Erik Dahlbäck: Burning in Stockholm [1981; Atavistic: 2004]
  • Alterations: Voila Enough! [1979.10.27-1981.03.15; Atavistic 239: 2003]
  • ROVA Saxophone Quartet: As Was [1981.04; Metalanguage 118; Atavistic 216: 2001]
  • Louis Moholo/Larry Stabbins/Keith Tippett: Tern [1982; SAJ, 2LP; Atavistic 245]
  • Moslang-Guhl: Knack On [1982; Atavistic 217]
  • Sun Ra: Nuclear War [1982.09; Atavistic 222]
  • Gunther Christman/Torsten Müller/LaDonna Smith/Davey Williams: White Earth Streak [TransMuseq 7: 1983; Atavistic 228]
  • Brötzmann Clarinet Project: Berlin Djungle [1984; Atavistic: 2004]
  • Nachtluft: Belle-View I-IV [1986.06.06-07; Atavistic 208: 2000]
  • Starship Beer: Nut Music: As Free as the Squirrels [1976, 1978, 1979.08.15-17, 1986, 1988; Atavistic 220: 2001]
  • Sirone: Sirone Live [1991; Atavistic 253: 2005]
  • Last Exit: Köln [Atavistic 252]
  • George Gruntz: Mental Cruelty [Atavistic 238]

Total records in list above: 51 (18 in house, 0 from other sources)

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