S/D: Art Ensemble of Chicago

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The only Art Ensemble of Chicago I've heard are the two I own: Les Stances a Sophie and Fanfare for the Warriors. I like both, but Stances is great all the way through, while Fanfare for the Warriors is a little patchy.

What should I look for next? They usually have at least a few in stock at Dusty Groove, but AEC has so many albums, there's bound to be some duds.

Zachary S (Zach S), Sunday, 4 February 2007 20:06 (thirteen years ago) link

S: basically all the 1969-72 Paris albums. This includes Stances, so you're off to a good start. The others are: Reese and the Smooth Ones, A Jackson In Your House, Message To Our Folks (currently paired w/Jackson on a single CD), People In Sorrow, Certain Blacks, Chi-Congo, ...With Fontella Bass, Phase One, and a couple others I can't remember right now. Post-Paris, you need Urban Bushmen, Kabalaba, Bap-Tizum and The Meeting. I haven't heard most of their 1980s and 1990s output, so maybe someone else can help with that stuff.

pdf (Phil Freeman), Sunday, 4 February 2007 20:23 (thirteen years ago) link

"tutankhamen" on black lion, recorded 1969 in paris

vahid (vahid), Sunday, 4 February 2007 20:48 (thirteen years ago) link

i think phil's list is good, i went on an AACM spree a while back and then pared down to the stuff i really really like, here's what i've got

reese + the smooth ones
jackson in your house / message to our folks
les stances a sophie
live @ mandel hall
urban bushmen

one thing is that if you're attracted to the swingin soul jazz element of "les stances a sophie" you may not enjoy "baptizum" or "live @ mandel hall" or "tutankhamen" that much ... there's a fair amount of ornette coleman style free blowing on those.

"reese + smooth ones" and "jackson in your house" are probably a better bet, though again, not so much swingin soul jazz, more of a sort of episodic radio-drama thing going on on those albums, almost like listening to a play or an opera in parts. tres artsy.

vahid (vahid), Sunday, 4 February 2007 20:53 (thirteen years ago) link

I was never much able to enjoy Live At Mandel Hall, for the simple buyer-beware reason that it's a single 72-minute track.

Also, in addition to Tutankhamen (which was an oversight on my part), check out The Spiritual, recorded the same day.

pdf (Phil Freeman), Sunday, 4 February 2007 21:39 (thirteen years ago) link

Search, urgently: Comme à la Radio - Brigitte Fontaine & Art Ensemble of Chicago

Turangalila (Salvador), Sunday, 4 February 2007 21:45 (thirteen years ago) link

perhaps you guys can help me out. a friend played me one piece, years ago, pretty sure from the Paris period. starts incredibly sparse, intermittent single notes & sounds struck on wide ranging percussion ensemble. gradually, a strange melody emerges on a single instrument and all the players slowly converge and begin playing it. even here it stays unbelievably sparse, giving it real power. I have jackson / message, stances, comme à la radio but this piece is the one that tore me up... guesses appreciated.

milton parker (Jon L), Sunday, 4 February 2007 23:28 (thirteen years ago) link

Some more over here - Primer: AACM

xyzzzz__ (jdesouza), Sunday, 4 February 2007 23:42 (thirteen years ago) link

I didn't know the AEC were part of any larger collective. I moved to Chicago recently - I wonder if AACM stuff would be easier to find here? I hope so. I've got a list of about 20 AACM albums I'm keeping a lookout for now.

Zachary S (Zach S), Monday, 5 February 2007 00:09 (thirteen years ago) link

Second Comme a la Radio. My fav. of their paris albums is A Jackson in Your House. Also, Bap-tizum is a great live performance. Love these guys.

call all destroyer (Sean Braudis), Monday, 5 February 2007 05:00 (thirteen years ago) link

Their ECM days tend to get short shrift, but I've always had a soft spot for Nice Guys.

Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Monday, 5 February 2007 10:19 (thirteen years ago) link

has People In Sorrow ever been issued on CD?

hank (hank s), Monday, 5 February 2007 13:46 (thirteen years ago) link

EMI France put it out on a CD together with Les Stances A Sophie as part of their "Americans In Europe" series. Both have obviously been sourced from vinyl but it's the only way to get People In Sorrow - which is their masterpiece - on CD at the present time.

Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Monday, 5 February 2007 13:52 (thirteen years ago) link

starts incredibly sparse, intermittent single notes & sounds struck on wide ranging percussion ensemble. gradually, a strange melody emerges on a single instrument and all the players slowly converge and begin playing it. even here it stays unbelievably sparse, giving it real power.

Could it be Reese and the Smooth Ones?

mcd (mcd), Monday, 5 February 2007 14:42 (thirteen years ago) link

No because that starts out with a unison horn riff and then goes into sparse notes, pointillistic percussion etc.

Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Monday, 5 February 2007 14:44 (thirteen years ago) link

I've always liked "Prayer For Jimbo Kwesi" from Third Decade (one of those 80s ECM albums).

Rockist Scientist, Hippopoptimist (RSLaRue), Monday, 5 February 2007 14:46 (thirteen years ago) link

No because that starts out with a unison horn riff and then goes into sparse notes, pointillistic percussion etc.

Maybe milton started listening in the middle of it.

mcd (mcd), Monday, 5 February 2007 14:55 (thirteen years ago) link

No need to be sarky.

Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Monday, 5 February 2007 14:57 (thirteen years ago) link

Nice Guys is great

deej.. (deej..), Monday, 5 February 2007 15:33 (thirteen years ago) link

Roscoe Mitchell's Congliptious (basically a Joseph Jarman-less AEC in all but name) is pretty great. Never heard any of his other early ones, alas.

M. Agony Von Bontee (M. Agony Von Bontee), Monday, 5 February 2007 16:24 (thirteen years ago) link

Sound is an absolute classic and it does resurface on CD now and again.

But yes, Congliptious featuring Bowie's "Jazz Death" - requires URGENT AND KEY CD reissue.

Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Monday, 5 February 2007 16:26 (thirteen years ago) link

Congliptious is on the Nessa CD box no? along with Bowie's Numbers 1 & 2. I can't believe that box set is still in print since it is like the greatest thing in the universe.

agreed that People in Sorrow is the best example of their particular collective improv ... and hence, best album

Of later recs, I really like Live in Berlin and Live in Japan ... the latter was my introduction to them

Haven't yet heard any of the new stuff with Corey Wilkes, but Corey is a bad-ass ... one of the absolute best musicians working in Chicago

Stormy Davis (diamond), Monday, 5 February 2007 19:18 (thirteen years ago) link

x-post no one's being sarky, I guess nothing bad will happen to me if I just get them all

milton parker (Jon L), Monday, 5 February 2007 19:34 (thirteen years ago) link

I wasn't being sarky [sic], I just wondered if maybe it was Reese despite the description since I think I've heard most of the Paris records and none of them exactly fit that sequence of events that I recall. Might be Live in Paris.

Speaking of Roscoe Mitchell (and yes whenever someone asks me about AEoC, I suggest Sound, a crucial record)... anyone heard that Muhal Richard Abrams/George Lewis/Roscoe Mitchell album on Pi? I was fortunate enough to hear a track from it, George Lewis doing his electronics thing (which usually makes me miss the trombone! even though I like the electronics, too). Was wondering if the album is strong all the way through.

mcd (mcd), Monday, 5 February 2007 19:44 (thirteen years ago) link

Hmmm...could Milton's mystery piece possibly be People In Sorrow, Side Two? That's from '67; dunno if they were already in Paris by that point...

Myonga Von Bowie (Monty Von Byonga), Tuesday, 6 February 2007 06:03 (thirteen years ago) link

Actually recorded in Boulogne, July 1969.

Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Tuesday, 6 February 2007 07:59 (thirteen years ago) link

I remember People in Sorrow as starting off with just percussion noises, then a lone sparse melody on one instrument, so it might be the piece that Milton's after, although it's been a long time.

george gosset (gegoss), Tuesday, 6 February 2007 10:28 (thirteen years ago) link

1969, right. I stand corrected!

M. Agony Von Bontee (M. Agony Von Bontee), Tuesday, 6 February 2007 14:23 (thirteen years ago) link

one year passes...

Les Stances A Sophie is getting a DVD release! http://www.souljazzrecords.co.uk/releases/?id=13465

jaxon, Thursday, 9 October 2008 18:06 (eleven years ago) link


that's an amazing album.

S: Bap-tizum, Message to Our Folks, A Jackson in Your House, Reese and the Smooth Ones, Urban Bushmen

Shakey Mo Collier, Thursday, 9 October 2008 18:08 (eleven years ago) link

just got the 2 CD reissue of Roscoe Mitchell's 'Nonaah'. Minimal and intense, opens with a 32 minute solo concert from 1976, also has Henry Threadgill / Abrams / George Lewis / Braxton, great:


Milton Parker, Thursday, 9 October 2008 18:11 (eleven years ago) link

Now someone needs to reissue that Brigitte Fontaine album that they appear on.

What's good for Wall Street (call all destroyer), Thursday, 9 October 2008 18:22 (eleven years ago) link

three years pass...

happy birthday roscoe!

If Assholes Could Fly This Place Would Be An Airport, Friday, 3 August 2012 18:38 (eight years ago) link

five years pass...

has anybody checked this out yet?


the late great, Wednesday, 9 August 2017 16:52 (three years ago) link

Yeah, I read it and reviewed it for The Wire. It starts off really, really strong, with a ton of biographical info about each of the core members, and the chapters on their time in Paris and the years immediately after are fantastic. There's also some in-depth musical analysis of individual performances, intended to shine a light on their compositional and collective improvisational methodology, which are great if you're a musician but not all that appealing to the lay reader. And once they sign to ECM, he kinda fast-forwards to the point where members start dying off, which is unfortunate. Some serious analysis of the ECM and DIW albums would have been great.

grawlix (unperson), Wednesday, 9 August 2017 17:30 (three years ago) link

interesting. sort of mirrors my interest in art ensemble, because while i have quite a few art ensemble albums, the only one after "bap-tizum" i have is "urban bushmen". which i like quite a lot. which of the ECM and DIW albums would you recommend i check out?

the late great, Wednesday, 9 August 2017 19:00 (three years ago) link

Nice Guys is great
― deej.. (deej..), Monday, February 5, 2007 9:33 AM (ten years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Wednesday, 9 August 2017 19:26 (three years ago) link

I know almost nothing about their latter-day catalog myself, which is why I was hoping the book would serve as a guide! The only one of the ECMs I've heard is Urban Bushmen, which is great, and the only one of the DIWs I've heard is the one with Cecil Taylor, which...isn't. (They don't speak the same language.)

grawlix (unperson), Wednesday, 9 August 2017 19:47 (three years ago) link

weird why is Urban Bushmen the only ECM one any of us know (including me?)

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 9 August 2017 19:49 (three years ago) link

I think because it's a Double Live Album it got more attention than the others, maybe?

grawlix (unperson), Wednesday, 9 August 2017 19:52 (three years ago) link

The Third Decade is good!

scott seward, Wednesday, 9 August 2017 20:09 (three years ago) link

i think i have Full Force at home too which came out after Nice Guys but i don't really remember much about it. I don't play Nice Guys much.

i never see the DIW albums for sale. i would probably buy them if i saw them.

scott seward, Wednesday, 9 August 2017 20:16 (three years ago) link

I kind of prefer the ECM era! I dig "Full Force" & love "Third Decade"

chr1sb3singer, Wednesday, 9 August 2017 20:36 (three years ago) link

I also have a weird soft spot for "Non-Cognitive Aspects of the City" from 2006

chr1sb3singer, Wednesday, 9 August 2017 20:39 (three years ago) link

I have Non-Cognitive Aspects of the City because I was at that show (the only time I ever got to see the AEOC) but I never listen to it. It was thrilling to be there at the time, though.

grawlix (unperson), Wednesday, 9 August 2017 20:41 (three years ago) link

I will admit a fondness for Coming Home Jamaica- the only DIW I know- although it's quite a trifle by comparison to what came before.

Max-Headroom-drops-a-deuce-while-shredding (Sparkle Motion), Wednesday, 9 August 2017 21:22 (three years ago) link

Also post-Lester, Tribute to Lester, which I think was their last on ECM is outstanding IMO, the best they possibly could have done under the circumstances.

Max-Headroom-drops-a-deuce-while-shredding (Sparkle Motion), Wednesday, 9 August 2017 21:23 (three years ago) link

'dreaming of the master' off nice guys is v replayable imo

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Thursday, 10 August 2017 02:45 (three years ago) link

Really enjoying the new Roscoe Mitchell album, Bells for the South Side.

cwkiii, Thursday, 10 August 2017 03:02 (three years ago) link

some related records i like to play:

Joseph Jarman, Famoudou Don Moye ‎– Egwu-Anwu (Sun Song)

Don Pullen, Joseph Jarman, Don Moye ‎– The Magic Triangle

Joseph Jarman - Don Moye ‎– Earth Passage - Density

Joseph Jarman ‎– Song For

Lester Bowie ‎– Fast Last!

Lester Bowie ‎– Rope-A-Dope

Kahil El'Zabar Featuring Lester Bowie, Malachi Favors ‎– The Ritual

and too many roscoe mitchell things to mention. he's on a lot of/made a lot of cool records.

scott seward, Thursday, 10 August 2017 05:04 (three years ago) link

i'll buy any related black saint 80s record i've never heard. and i'm always looking for nessa stuff i don't have. i need this:


scott seward, Thursday, 10 August 2017 05:06 (three years ago) link

one year passes...

Talking of the ECM era, this is out next month (mentioned briefly on the Rolling Reissues thread already):


GG Allin: The Musical (Matt #2), Wednesday, 17 October 2018 11:52 (one year ago) link

Tribute to Lester is about as powerful a record as you could imagine after losing such a key member of the band.

Scam jam, thank you ma’am (Sparkle Motion), Wednesday, 17 October 2018 23:22 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

Douglas R. Ewart of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) shares this sad news about saxophonist Joseph Jarman. pic.twitter.com/qxEYmS7dk5

— Ted Gioia (@tedgioia) January 11, 2019

j., Friday, 11 January 2019 03:25 (one year ago) link

rip. as a group they hold a lot of personal significance to me. seems like a life well lived.

call all destroyer, Friday, 11 January 2019 03:31 (one year ago) link

RIP will jam some bap-tizum tonight

the late great, Friday, 11 January 2019 06:58 (one year ago) link


"Song For" was in my 30 CD travel pack for 20 years.

I have 10-12 AACM related CDs, but I want that box set so bad. I feel like such a consumer.

I guess I could give away the CDs I have to some friends, but I don't think any of them deserve to have or would appreciate them.

nicky lo-fi, Sunday, 13 January 2019 19:29 (one year ago) link

i just got the ECM AEC set for christmas — haven't made it all the way through yet, but obviously a ton of great music.

tylerw, Sunday, 13 January 2019 20:55 (one year ago) link

nine months pass...

this looks cool


In 1977, Art Ensemble of Chicago Publishing Co. published Jarman's Black Case Volume I and II: Return From Exile, a collection of writing conceived across America and Europe between 1960 and 1975. Comprised largely of Jarman's flowing, fiery free verse – influenced by Amus Mor, Henry Dumas, Thulani Davis, and Amiri Baraka – the book also features a manifesto for "GREAT BLACK MUSIC," notated songs, concert program notes, Jarman's photos, and impressions of a play by Muhal Richard Abrams, the founder of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians of which Jarman was also an original member. Jarman writes poetry of personal revolutionary intent, aimed at routing his audience's consciousness towards growth and communication. He speaks with compassionate urgency of the struggles of growing up on Chicago's South Side, of racist police brutality and profound urban alienation, and of the responsibility he feels as a creative artist to nurture beauty and community through the heliocentric music that he considers the healing force of the universe. A practicing Buddhist and proponent of Aikido since a 1958 awakening saved him from the traumatic mental isolation of his time dropped by the US army into southeast Asia, Jarman sings praise for the self-awareness realization possible through the martial arts. With cosmic breath as its leitmotif, his poetry both encourages and embodies a complete relinquishing of ego. While some of the poems contained within Black Case have already been immortalized via performances on classic records by Jarman and Art Ensemble of Chicago, its republication in print form breathes new life into a forgotten document of the Black Arts Movement.


budo jeru, Thursday, 7 November 2019 22:32 (nine months ago) link

Anyone know if they're worth seeing nowadays? This is happening in London soon:

Cornelius Fondue (Matt #2), Friday, 8 November 2019 09:26 (nine months ago) link

Yes, absolutely go. They’re great live now.

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Friday, 8 November 2019 10:58 (nine months ago) link

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