Art Ensemble of Chicago
Kozmigroov Albums
A Jackson In Your House [BYG-Actuel, 1969]
Tutankhamun [Arista-Freedom, 1969]
The Spiritual [Arista-Freedom, 1969]
People In Sorrow [Nessa, 1969]
Message To Our Folks [BYG-Actuel, 1969]
Reese And The Smooth Ones [BYG-Actuel, 1969]
Certain Blacks [America, 1970]
Chi-Congo [Decca, 1970]
Les Stances A Sophie [Nessa, 1970]
With Fontella Bass [America, 1970]
Phase One [America, 1971]
Live At Mandel Hall [Delmark, 1972]
Bap-Tizum [Atlantic, 1972]
Fanfare For The Warriors [Atlantic, 1973]
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The AEC's approach to the creation of music could be described as pre-modern folk (using a highly personalized way of dealing with music in a larger context of music/theatre and culture and general).  While there may be an element of ecstacy and mysticism in some of their music, the bulk of their work is focused on something they can see/feel, or at the very least, ancestral memories pounding away in their bloodstream. [RL]

Bap-Tizum is not quite as "out there" in the trance/groove dept as I recalled.  It's taken from a live performance (1972), so if you're familiar with the Art Ensemble m.o., you know that that means it is by turns dedicational, pious, theatrical and just plain stomping.  In fact, the first ten minutes features little besides Moye's poly-rhythms, dressed with the requisite little-instrument coloration.  The horns enter tentatively, prodding the carpet for sturdiness before loosing a triumphant blare after which Roscoe Mitchell cuts loose with a fabulous solo that knocks down all hitherto-erected signposts and demarcations.  I can't think of a better album that showcases his ability to navigate the post-Ornette territory with such urgency and precision. The rest of the performance continues to tap this vein (e.g. the Roscoe show).  I have previously claimed that the period after which they returned from Paris to their gradual dispersion (of creative interests, if not actual abandonment of the band) in the mid-late 70s is their most realized period, and while I may be rethinking that approach, that does not detract from their string of impeccable albums, of which this is one (and _Fanfare_ being another, but I'd rather take a listen to it before attempting to lay hands on keyboard).  On the Cartesian plane of Kozmi vs. Groov(e), I don't think this will pop anyone's socks off, though.  But I should hope the interests of this list are broad enough that it would matter (plus there's that ten minute of hand-drum massage). [RL]

I feel obliged to mention "Rock Out!" off A Message To Our Folks, the second album they did in Paris.  It's an early take on funk (not being privy to the sounds of their "breakbeat classic" from Les Stances a Sophie, I couldn't compare it with anything later).  It admittedly has a fairly formal bass line (can't even in good consciousness call it a "groove"- the recording/play quality doesn't help out, but I concede Sumiko is not known for their ability to deliver the goods in that frequency range);  still, I thought it might be of interest to the list, even though it and your fine china can inhabit the same living space no problem. [RL]

There're a lot of good Art Ensemble albums out there, though they might take a bit of searching. There are even more merely okay Art Ensemble recordings, and they tend to be the ones most available. My deep-seated love for the group tends to peter out after about 1978 or so (Nice Guys is the last truly great record they did, IMO), and most of the in-print or reissued stuff tends to be from the later period, in which they seemed to become entirely too self-conscious about their "weirdness" and "cultural heritage" angles, not to mention that they also seemed to start saving most of their good material for solo albums. That said, some leads:

  • buy pretty much any 60s-early 70s used LPs you run into - even the middling ones pretty much blow away all comers; the one w/Fontella Bass is indeed great, just picked it up recently, and all those recorded in France are super (Affinity has reissued [not totally legally, I think] some of the BYG releases, tho they're crappily packaged and don't always sound great); the ones on Atlantic from the early 70s show up pretty regularly used for not a lotta clams;
  • there's a 5-CD box set Nessa put out a few years back that should still be around; it's a totally mindblowing document, over 5 hrs of wild stuff, much unreleased, that shows their ideas coming together and taking off just before they split for Europe; expensive, but damn worth it;
  • the live CD on Delmark is good but exhausting (one 76-min cut), but Delmark has also thankfully reissued some other pieces originally released under solo auspices that are as great as any AE record: start w/Roscoe Mitchell's Sound from 1966 (the one that really blew the minds of the aware at the time, the first real document of the AACM thing to receive wide release; AE was in fact the name Roscoe first used for his group, and it stuck); the early Joseph Jarman releases are great too, buy on sight;
  • and since the lineups of all these groups were pretty open at the time (the core AE roster wasn't really "set" until they headed for Frogland), the players show up on some other great AACM stuff from the late 60s too, including Muhal Richard Abrams' early records (Levels and Degrees of Light is one of the best ever, period, and Young At Heart ... features the first recorded appearance of a young Henry Threadgill); and I can never mention AACM stuff w/o getting in a plug for cosmic tenor player (one of the few to actually go beyond the ground 'Trane had mapped) Kalaparusha (Maurice McIntyre), whose two Delmark albums are for me perhaps the pinnacle of the whole AACM thang - Humility is criminally out of print (the sidelong suite feat. baritone field-holler vocals duelling w/sax remains equally stunning every time I hear it), but the second is on CD as is also as necessary as any jazz record I own. [KM]

Si, probablemente lo sea


seeking for work

how could I get this 5 cd box of The Art ensemble of Chicago-nessa rec.
thanks in advance