Monday, 4 June 2018
Freddie Hubbard / İlhan Mimaroǧlu - Sing Me A Song Of Songmy (1971)
Before even hearing the record, listeners of the time would've been aware that there were weighty themes within - 'Songmy' was an anglicization of Sơn Mỹ, the Vietnamese village in which the 1968 My Lai massacre took place; the cover painting was Picasso's Massacre In Korea, and the gatefold a collage of contemporary anti-war content. Alongside Mimaroǧlu's "Fantasy For Electromagnetic Tape", with occasional quotes of older classical music, and Hubbard's quintet, were readings of poems by Fazıl Hüsnü Dağlarca and Nha-Khe, and texts by Kierkegaard and Che Guevara.
The album opens with another then-contemporary recitation, of Susan Atkins' testimony at the Manson Family trials, accompanied by a nightmarish sound collage giving way to a string orchestra overture and more electronics. If this is a bit too much of a chucking in at the deep end, a few minutes of Hubbard and band follow with minimum disturbance, before the electronic processing gradually leads to the first piece of war poetry. The album continues in collage mode, jumping from jazz to processed noise to orchestrated passages to recitation and sometimes piling on all at once, clearly intended to be unsettling, provocative and thought-provoking. A must-listen, even today.