The Group

The Group is a cooperative quintet that includes Billy Bang, Marion Brown, trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah and Sirone. It’s certainly one of the most overlooked jazz bands. The Group, unlike many other all-star bands of the 1980s like New and Old Dreams and the Leaders, Sphere and Song X, never recorded and was rarely seen outside of New York City. They made some of their most memorable and captivating music during the two years that they were together, from 1986 to 1987. This historical oversight is corrected with The Group: Live, NoBusiness Records. Fred Hopkins is also featured in the concert performance. This shows that The Group was more than just an all-star band that played it safe. They were innovative and exploratory, unlike other groups. Recorded at the Jazz Center of New York, September 1986, the music includes compositions by Brown and Bang as well as stunning interpretations of Charles Mingus’s “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” and Miriam Makeba’s song. The Group unites two generations of New York’s jazz avant-garde. Cyrille and Brown were both born in the 1960s. While the rest of the band grew up in the 1970s loft scene, the music features compositions by Bang and Brown. Brown’s “La Placita,” which is lyrical and free, is a triumph; Abdullah takes bebop to abstraction with “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”, and Bang is his most explosive and bluesy performance on “The Shift Below.” Cyrille is a light and powerful performer that makes everything dance. Sirone and Hopkins are recorded together for the first time. They add a unique rhythmic and harmonic dimension to music. The band’s collective approach to the music creates telepathic interactions throughout their set. Not only are the solos outstanding, but also the ensemble’s combined performance is dazzling. This performance is so sophisticated and joyful that it’s hard to believe that this group could be overlooked for over 25 years. from

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