Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Muhal Richard Abrams|
Levels and Degrees of Light
Genres: Jazz, Pop
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At Times Tedious, At Others Sublime
Jason Gubbels | San Diego, CA | 07/04/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"You'll probably just want to go ahead and skip the first, oh, six minutes of track two, 'The Bird Song,' because whatever his later gifts as a writer may be, David Moore's extended spoken word section just can't sustain anybody's interest (and I've tried it on numerous individuals with various levels of patience). It's not so much that his poetry is bad (although it truly is), it's that the man doesn't seem to know how to speak like a human being, preferring instead to stumble blindly along in an affected monotone as if he were a talking computer capable of pronouncing every word correctly but unable to connect the words together into a meaningful whole. But, skip this section, and the rest of the album conforms more to what you might expect of a late-60s avant-garde Chicago jazz release - broad use of silence, blending of jazz with classical techniques (usually of the experimental variety), screeches & honks, the sawing away of a violin. But it's good, really, just not very exciting or swinging. (Abrams plays clarinet on the first track, a departure from his piano playing, and his eerie cries are easily the greatest thing on the record, almost worth the price of admission itself.) For the specialist."
Great AACM free jazz
Allan MacInnis | Vancouver | 10/23/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Given that there seem to be an ample number of Art Ensemble of Chicago fans kicking around this site, it's strange that no one has reviewed this seminal album by Muhal Richard Abrams, who was the man who founded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and The Experimental Band, which gave birth to the Art Ensemble. This release, along with Braxton's THREE COMPOSITIONS OF NEW JAZZ (if I recall the title) was one of the very first AACM projects to be put out, and features, if I recall, most of the members of the original AECO quartet, Maurice McIntyre, Braxton, and others. It's noisy at times, as you might expect -- and builds to peaks of intensity, say, on "Bird Song," that are among the most extreme of any of the free stuff recorded at the time -- but it's a terrific album -- worth it for "Bird Song" alone. (Actually, I don't have the disc handy, so I hope that's the title)... Abrams later got far too composition-conscious and edgy on some of his later releases -- I haven't enjoyed many of them -- but this disc is pure passion and a VERY VALUABLE experience for anyone who cares about the Chicago free jazz scene of the '60s. Or the New York one, for that matter. Note: yeah, the spoken word stuff is kinda annoying (five minute poem preceding "Bird Song.") Just skip it, get rid of it. Gee, I hope the CD release has it on a separate TRACK... I never checked. Uhhh."