Art Ensemble Of Chicago
Of all the jazz groups there are and have been, the Art Ensemble of Chicago (AEC) is not only one of the most long-lasting, but also one of the most adventurous. Formed in 1967, the AEC comprises reed players Roscoe Mitchell and Joseph Jarman, trumpeter Lester Bowie, bassist Malachi Favors, and percussionist Famoudou Don Moye. Their music draws upon a full range of styles and influences, and often involves a rich collection of instruments, including a vast array of percussion that all the members of the ensemble play. As their motto proclaims, theirs is truly "Great Black Music: Ancient To The Future." The AEC grew out of the exploratory, idealistic musical environment in Chicago that coalesced in 1965 as the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, led by Muhal Richard Abrams. Other musicians who have been associated with the AACM include Anthony Braxton, George Lewis, Henry Threadgill, and many others. In 1966, Roscoe Mitchell brought together Lester Bowie and Malachi Favors to record an album. The following year, a session under Bowie's direction added Joseph Jarman. An extended sojourn in Paris between 1969-1971 resulted in a number of recordings (A Jackson in your House, The Paris Session), and, more importantly, the addition of Don Moye to the group. AEC performances are theatrical-musical events, with the stage filled with instruments of all sorts, the performers in costume and face-paint, and the music often presented as extended suites--musical voyages--through anything from textures of gongs and bells to Dixieland, be-bop, reggae, or African drumming. Each of the five members of the group have always pursued individual projects, but the AEC has recorded a number of albums, primarily for Atlantic (Bap-Tizum), ECM (Nice Guys, Full Force, Urban Bushmen), Disk Union/DIW (Art Ensemble of Soweto, Dreaming of the Masters series), ECM (The Third Decade) and Delmark. Collaborative projects have included musicans such as Muhal Richard Abrams, Cecil Taylor, and the Amabutho Male Chorus of Soweto. In the mid-1990s, Joseph Jarman stopped playing with the group in order to devote himself to spiritual pursuits in Buddhism, but a new album with the remaining four members, Coming Home Jamaïca, was released in 1998.
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