January 27, 1997 12:00 PM

Jerry Granelli & UFB

Granelli is a veteran, first-rate jazz drummer with a spiritual bent. Broken Circle is his second album at the helm of UFB, a quartet the 56-year-old founded with three young German jazz-rockers. UFB’s special virtue is its integration of two contrasting layers: the heavy, blues-based fire of electric guitarists Kai Brückner and Christian Kögel, and the airy rhythms of Granelli and bassist Andreas Walter. The guitarists’ full-throttle attack never gets oppressive; Granelli and Walter’s springy foundation keeps things supple and fluid.

Broken Circle’s first half consists mostly of imaginative covers of songs by various jazz and rock composers (Prince, Peter Gabriel, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane); there’s an original, “Red and Blue Days,” that wails soulfully.

The second half, a suite entitled “Song of a Good Name,” grows out of Granelli’s fascination with Native American history and lore. Instead of imitating American Indian music, UFB uses its own jazz-rock to try to convey the depth, complexity and plight of Native American culture. The effort succeeds beautifully, ranging from the meditative calm of “Holy Road” to the martial gravity of “Crazy Horse’s Dream” to the anger and taut violence of “Wounded Knee.”

Granelli is hardly a household name, even among jazz fans; he deserves to be more widely heard. (Intuition)

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