Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Art Ensemble of Chicago|
Ancient to the Future
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Classic Art Ensemble with a twist
Michael Crowley | Albany, CA USA | 11/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't know how you've managed to find your way to this obscure page buried deep in the Amazon, but if you have I assume you're already a fan of the Art Ensemble. You should buy this CD whether you are or not (buy it used, of course--as I write there is a copy available for $9.95) but especially if you are, since it's a little unusual.
The first track, Ancient to the Future, is an excellent example of one of the AEC's extended pieces. It starts with an energetic percussion + weird sound effects jam (it sounds like Lester Bowie is playing just the mouthpiece of his trumpet), which yields to a mid-tempo groove not unlike Coltrane's Spiritual or the AEC's own Dreaming of the Master, and finishes with some free jazz squonking accompanied by slightly cheesy "futuristic" keyboard that makes it sound a lot like something by Sun Ra.
But it's the second side that's the real treat. I'm guessing that Lester must have talked his bandmates into doing these covers, because it's very atypical of the AEC to do any covers at all, even jazz covers, but Lester was very fond of doing this kind of thing with his own groups. Anyway, they do a nice job on Ellington's Creole Love Call, with Lester playing in a very traditional style, making like Hot Lips Page or something. Then they do some soulful work on Otis Redding's These Arms of Mine, which is again mostly Lester's thing. But it's the next tune, a nine minute plus workout on Bob Marley's No Woman No Cry, that's the standout. The normally austere and avant-garde Joseph Jarman and Roscoe Mitchell take what are for them quite lyrical solos on this piece--one doesn't often hear them like this, which is too bad. The AEC's take on Purple Haze doesn't work quite as well for me--it's still good, and an interesting take on the song, but it's a little restrained for a Hendrix cover. Fela's Zombie, the closer, fits the AEC to a T--in fact, of the bunch it sounds the most like an AEC tune. This is a little memento of Lester's six month stay with Fela--you can hear him on Fela's tunes No Agreement and Dog Eat Dog, which are available in a two-fer CD with Shuffering & Shmiling (look for it under the latter name).
Good ol' Art Ensemble. They were such a great group and I don't know if they ever quite got the recognition they deserved. Too late now. Lester's gone, now Malichi's gone too..."
Great Black Music -- Ancient to Future
m_noland | Washington, DC United States | 11/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"On this album the AEC sets about to demonstrate the content of their slogan, performing an original composition, then works by Duke Ellington, Otis Redding, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, and Fela Kuti. Lester Bowie gets astonishing vocal-like sounds out of his trumpet on "These Arms of Mine" mimicking Redding's vocals on the original recording. Malachi Favors manages a huge bass sound on the propulsive cover of "Zombie." Great disk. They must have had a ball making it."