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Musicians & tQ Writers On Anti-Fascist Anthems
Luke Turner , October 4th, 2016 08:32

Featuring contributions from Ben Durutti, Penny Rimbaud, Bobby Barry, Jeremy Allen, Ben Myers, Kevin McCaighy, Stewart Smith, Neil Cooper, Matt Evans, Tony F Wilson, Leo Chadburn, Emily Mackay, David Bennun, Phil Harrison, Arnold De Boer, Joel McIver, Russell Cuzner, Jeremy Bolm, John Doran, TV Smith, James Sherry, Jonathan Meades, Tristan Bath, JR Moores, Julian Marszalek, Captain Sensible, Andy Moor, Christine Casey, Nic Bullen and Stewart Lee

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Charlie Haden - ‘El Quinto Regimiento’/’Los Cuatro Generales’/’Viva la Quince Brigada’

This suite of Spanish Civil War songs is the centrepiece of Charlie Haden's 1970 masterpiece Liberation Music Orchestra with the free jazz big band improvising around the original 1930s arrangements. 'El Quinto Regimiento' is introduced by Sam Brown's flamenco guitar flourish, before the Orchestra waltz in with the theme. They stay true to the stirring vintage arrangement until Don Cherry's spiralling pocket trumpet and Carla Bley's abstracted piano chords usher in an improvised passage underpinned by Haden's trembling bass chromatics and Paul Motian and Andrew Cyrille's dramatic percussion. Each of the soloists improvises around Iberian modes, with Cherry and Haden's abstractions contrasted with Brown's gorgeous flamenco classicism. The use of Spanish guitar inevitably recalls Charles Mingus's peerless The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady and Haden and his co-conspirator Bley seem to acknowledge the debt with the loose and funky groove they have the rhythm section lay under Roswell Rudd's convivial trombone feature on 'The Four Generals'. A snatch of the original 1930s recording of 'The Four Generals' is super-imposed under the Orchestra's live playing, its ghostly presence making the performance all the more moving. They repeat the trick during 'Viva La Quince Brigada' with a male chorus floating under Gato Barbieri's impassioned saxophone and Haden's grinding arco bass, before the Orchestra rallies for a final pass at the stirring marching theme. The use of these 'samples' is as emotionally powerful as it is formally radical, allowing the voices of the defeated Republican side to be heard anew.
Stewart Smith


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