Cairo Free Jazz Ensemble - Heliopolis
One of the great projects in Egyptian jazz, the Cairo Free Jazz Ensemble was formed by Salah Ragab and Hartmut Geerken as an avant-garde offshoot of The Cairo Jazz Band - the first jazz big band in the country - formed in 1968 when Ragab was appointed chief of Egypt’s Military Department of Music and had at his disposal a vast staff of musicians (almost three thousand!), an entire military building, and a full range collection of musical instruments. When encountering this recording, issued in 1970, the deep resonance found between the ensemble and its American counterparts becomes startlingly clear. Heliopolis is a stunning blend of big band spiritual jazz, the music of the Middle East, and the fire and energy of free jazz, unveiling a deep creative resonance with the contemporaneous efforts of Pharoah Sanders, Phil Cohran, and - of course - Sun Ra, combining jazz instrumentation and musical style with indigenous melodies and instruments to create a musical object with few parallels. The album is a throbbing, squealing, wild journey through the creative heights of sound channeling swirling, focused artistry that taps future and past in a single blow.Copies of the original pressing are between the rarest and most sought-after records in canon of recorded jazz. This is the first ever authorized repress released under license from Hartmut Geerken.