Manfred Schoof Sextett - Manfred Schoof Sextett (1967), 7/10

Composed by the prolific Alexander von Schlippenbach alongside Manfred Schoof, this album is a manic practice of European Free Jazz that stands next to some of the greats. At moments it becomes maniacal savagery but the majority of this record assembles an impressively moving listening experience with a broad range of energies. It is overshadowed by Schoof's follow-up European Echoes but has earned its place in the annals of great free jazz. It is a very unique listening experience, even among Schoof's discography, but has the fiery madness of the best European free improvisation records mixed fluidly with the more thoughtful experimental, cerebral side of the movement. It can simultaneously be eerie, violent, even restless and menacing at times, a trademark methodology with Schlippenbach's fingerprints all over it, sometimes even directly in his playing but even bleeding into the other performers' approach to modality. There are passages that are sublimely ambient, especially towards its end with Johansson and Liebezeit's percussive meanderings, something that adds substantial variety to the record and keeps it fresh after many re-listens. Rarely does the album fall into already explored tropes, rather expanding and embarking on new ground with fresh approach to space and harmony, or lack thereof in many of its passages. The individual talent becomes clear quickly, but the synergy becomes apparent and reveals itself consistently throughout its varied pieces. Certainly a focused and specific recording, but one with substantial intrigue for those with the patience for its nomadic approach to free jazz. One of my personal favorites from Schoof and Schlippenbach which is saying quite a bit considering their massive presence in European free jazz and its history.