When most people think of supergroups, they don't consider high-decibel free jazz. When fellow travelers guitarist Sonny Sharrock (who played uncredited on Miles Davis 'powerful Jack Johnson), bassist/producer Bill Laswell (Material), polyrhythm demon Ronald Shannon Jackson and avant saxophonist Peter Brotzmann converged in the mid-'80s, a big bang of noise ensued: loud, no-holds-barred sounds usually heard in metal or punk scenes, but not with expert musicians like these. One of several live albums the band made, Cassette Recordings '87 is distinguished by the 20-minute "Line of Fire" featuring Jackson's strident playing, Brotzmann's screaming sax and Sharrock's gliding solos, followed by bizarre uncredited vocal exercises on "Ma Rainey" (a tribute to the late blues singer) and Jimmy Reed's "Big Boss Man." One of the group's last recordings before it scattered to solo projects and lost the great Sharrock to a heart attack in 1994, this compelling record is a fine way to appreciate what these four master musicians were able to accomplish together.
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