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If you walk into a grove of redwood trees in Northern California you will come upon a cathedral of trees. These living/breathing beings, some nearly 300 feet tall, may have been standing there together for the last thousand or two thousand years. They have been very quietly affecting the ecology of the west since before Europeans ever saw the Pacific Ocean. Like the redwoods, members of Chicago's Association for Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) have, sometimes quietly, often with great soundings, affected the nature of the living art of jazz.
The remastered reissue of 1968's As If It Were The Seasons presents AACM co-founder and Art Ensemble of Chicago member Joseph Jarman's second release and follow-up to Song For (Delmark, 1966). Like much of the early work of AACM musicians, this recording is an investigation of more open compositions, textures, and shapes. If the creative chaos and energy of Coltrane's Meditations (Impulse!, 1965) and Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz (Atlantic, 1960) opened the door to Sun Ra's experiments, then Jarman and AEC refined the art into a meditative practice.
These two lengthy tracks begin with the simple statements. "As If It Were The Seasons is called to order with a gong, flute, and kalimba whisper. Jarman quiets your mind for the reflection to follow. He certainly catches our attention and his trio of Charles Clark and Thurman Baker are sympathetic collaborators. The trio is augmented by well-known artists Muhal Richard Abrams, Fred Anderson and John Stubblefield, and the not-so-well-known Joel Brandon, John Jackson and Lester Lashley on "Song For Christopher. While the addition of players adds a bit to the volume, it doesn't clutter the affair. The crowning moment here is the presence of vocalist Sherri Scott, confirming the human touch and spiritual journey Joseph Jarman began with these recordings.
Track Listing: As If It Were The Seasons and Song To Make The Sun Come Up; Song For Christopher.
Personnel: Joseph Jarman: alto saxophone, bassoon, fife, recorder, soprano saxophone; Charles Clark: bass, cello, koto; Thurman Barker: drums, percussion; Sherri Scott: voice; Muhal Richard Abrams: piano, oboe (2); Fred Anderson: tenor saxophone (2); John Stubblefield: tenor saxophone (2); Joel Brandon: flute (2); John Jackson: trumpet (2); Lester Lashley: trombone (2); All Personnel: bells, gongs, harps (2).
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.