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The collective energies of the Globe Unity Orchestra were at a high-point in the mid 1970s, at which time the group was known both for its earth-shaking power and the deep thinking of its instigator, pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, who had studied contemporary orchestration and knew well how to arrange for an improvisors' big band.
In 1974, as a radio project for NDR JazzWorkshop, Schlippenbach composed a piece for his orchestra and the NDR choir. "Hamburg '74" was, as he has explained subsequently, Schlippenbach's "contribution to humor in the music." It is an unusual and beguiling piece, an side-long encounter between classical voice, improvised music whisper and free jazz yowl. With a Globe Unity that included a sax section of Peter Brötzmann, Evan Parker, Rüdiger Carl, Gerd Dudek, and Michel Pilz, Peter Kowald on bass, brass including Kenny Wheeler, Günter Christmann, Manfred Schoof and Paul Rutherford, Schlippenbach on piano, Peter Kowald on bass and tuba, special guest Derek Bailey on guitar, and BOTH Han Bennink and Paul Lovens on drums, this was a lean, mean orchestral machine. The original LP included an arrangement for orchestra and choir of Schoof's "Kontraste und Synthesen," one of the pieces he and Schlippenbach played together during the '60s in the Manfred Schoof Sextett.
Remastered from the original tapes, Hamburg '74 is a lesser-known classic of European free music, available for the first time on CD, with the original packaging and previously unpublished photo.