Art Ensemble of Chicago: Art Ensemble of Chicago and Associated Ensembles
Sprung from the rib of the AACM in 1969, The Art Ensemble of Chicago will share their 50th anniversary with their longtime label ECM Records in 2019. The release of this massive 21-disc box set recounting the lengthy rapport between the two establishments in the creative jazz continuum simply couldn’t arrive at a better time. And though the legendary avant-garde jazz group has released albums on a variety of different labels throughout their career including Atlantic, Black Lion and DIW, it is arguably their work with Manfred Eicher that puts the kaleidoscope of directions this group has managed to traverse through the years into clear focus. What was most interesting about The Art Ensemble’s time at ECM, both collectively and as leaders and sidemen on outside ventures, was that it contained both the most accessible and most out-there compositions from the core quintet of trumpeter/ flugelhorn player Lester Bowie, bassist Malachi Favors, reedists Joseph Jarman and Roscoe Mitchell, and drummer Famoudou Don Moye. Each players’ catalog is represented on this set, from the irresistible melodies of Bowie’s doo-wop leaning output with Brass Fantasy to the freewheeling improv of such Art Ensemble masterpieces as 1979’s Nice Guys and 1984’s The Third Decade. Also included are select titles from Jack DeJohnette (who worked with both Bowie and former Art Ensemble collaborator, pianist Muhal Richard Abrams at ECM), Wadada Leo Smith (whose 1979 LP Divine Love featured a rare double-trumpet lineup with Bowie and Kenny Wheeler) and Evan Parker (who clashes soprano saxophones with Mitchell as the Transatlantic Art Ensemble on 2008’s Boustrophedon ). Accompanied by extensive liner notes, rare photos and handwritten music scales , Art Ensemble of Chicago and Associated Ensembles is the perfect way to usher in a half-century of thought, expression and brilliance from the most adventurous group in modern jazz.