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Mongezi Feza - Free Jam

Steven Loewy, All Music Guide

An extraordinary recording, this two-CD set captures trumpeter Mongezi Feza fronting the remarkable Bernt Rosengren Quartet, with Okay Temiz added on percussion. Recorded in 1972, but not released until 2004 on the Swedish label, Ayler Records, the ten tracks constituting nearly two hours of music are a major find, despite the somewhat sub-par recording quality and the truncated nature of some of the pieces. As is customary with this label, the production quality is first-rate, with meticulous notes contained in the twenty-page booklet, superb packaging, and a serious effort to clean up the sound.
For those familiar only with Feza's work with The Blue Notes, his ability to create astonishing solos at lightening speed in a largely unfettered environment may come as a pleasant surprise. On some of the longer tracks, such as "Group Notes III," Feza sounds like Don Cherry on speed, with wickedly jagged lines that are uniquely his own, producing one of the decade's most impressive trumpet stylists.
While the entire album is immersed in the so-called jazz Avant Garde, Feza's melodic constructs are eminently listen able, in the way that Ornette Coleman's early works were. Feza incorporates the advances of the 1960s and immerses himself in ecstatic blowing, with an appealingly upbeat confidence.

The Bernt Rosengren Quartet may be largely forgotten now (at least out of Sweden), but it was one of the best of the Swedish Free Jazz groups from the late 1960s through the mid-seventies, and it is in great form here. The addition of the Turkish percussionist, Okay Temiz, who at the time was rehearsing in a trio with Feza and legendary bassist Johnny Dyani, adds a strong underpinning to this piano-less group.
The results are at once invigorating and thrilling, and despite the less than stellar recording quality, this is a critical document of both adventurous Swedish jazz, and the incredible playing of Mongezi Feza.