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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Bengt Berger - Bitter Funeral Beer

This album is already 25 year old, but really worth mentioning. Berger, a Swedish percussionist, uses music recordings from Ghanese tribes, and especially mourning chants, as a backdrop for one of the saddest free jazz albums imagineable. This mini big band with vocals, saxes, violin, trumpet, xylophone, electric guitar, cello, bass and percussion, and with no one less than Don Cherry on the pocket trumpet, brings a musical experience beyond anything you've heard before. This is not afro-jazz, not world music, but a bizar cocktail of African rhythms and an unusual jazz line-up : very rhythmic, haunting, trance-inducing, repetitive and full of variation. The expressive power of this album is extremely rare. The band is totally unknown to me (all Swedes), but it does what it has to do, and how! Cherry is absolutely stellar. The last piece of the album, Darafo, is a 22 minute musical fest, by itself already worth the purchase.

PS - I heard some other CDs by Bengt Berger after I bought this one, but they are pretty boring.