I am not a major fan of free jazz, but this albums by a quartet of Sam Rivers (reeds, flute), Anthony Braxton (reeds, flute) led by legendary British bass player Dave Holland is an exception. There is, as you would expect, some squawking and honking on ‘Four Winds’, but there is a persistent melodic hook contained within that is right up there with MILES DAVIS with whom Dave, of course, played. If it is meant to represent different kinds of birds it works brilliantly. ‘Q & A’ showcases Barry Altschul’s percussive abilities and is so evocative of its subject matter. The title track is very beautiful. ‘Interception’ starts more like a jazz-rock fusion in the way of NUCLEUS, although a pretty angry bird soon appears. Altschul makes some wonderful noises in the background, and Holland’s bass is a master class.
In fact, the more you listen to “Conference of the Birds” the more it reveals and the better it gets. I am not even sure this is free jazz at all as often labelled as it is very structured music with distinctive melodies throughout and enough freedom for the musicians to express themselves.