Art Ensemble Of Chicago: The Meeting (2003)
But you may remember that the AEC was once distinguished as pre- and post-Joseph Jarman when he left the band in 1993. His return here doesn’t substitute for Bowie’s absence, it merely aims the music in different directions.
Jarman’s Buddhist studies of the past ten years are readily apparent from the opening track, a vocal praise of his Dharma path and quest for enlightenment. The boppish tune exemplifies AEC’s diverse sources for inspiration and content. The second track goes on to a 19-minute mostly free piece with each member playing lengthy percussive solos that come together in a group contemplative resolution of sound.
The ability to match foot-tapping compositions, like their nod to hip-hop on “Tech Ritter and the Megabytes” and open meditations on “Wind and Drum” with its bells and flutes, exemplifies the wide-ranging genius of this working ensemble. What AEC displays after all these years is a thorough knowledge of improvisation based both on noise and silence.
The title track, by Roscoe Mitchell, exorcises the demons of both sound and pulse with Jarman and Mitchell blowing over powerful waves of energy summoned by Moye and Favors. They then shift into their infamous "plays with toys" on “Amin Bidness” when the bells, recorders and hand drumming begins. Where these sounds usually come off best in live encounters with AEC, the excellent recording here separates players and leaves the listener in a dreamy elated state.
Four stars, one for each of these masters.
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Track Listing: Hail We Now Sing Joy; It
Personnel: Roscoe Mitchell - Piccolo, Flute, Bass Recorder, Great Bass Recorder, Sopranino Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Bass Saxophone, Percussion Cage; Malachi Favors Maghostut - Bass, Percussion; Don Moye - Drums, African Drum, Congas, Bongo Drums; Joseph Jarman - Wooden Flutes, C Flute, Eb Flute, Flute, Bass Flute, Sopranino Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Wooden Stand Drum, Bells, Gongs, Table Vibraphone, Whistles.
Record Label: Pi Recordings
Style: Modern Jazz