When it comes to notoriety and recognition the lineage of the AACM is a strange one. Some of the Association’s pioneering members, such as those in the Art Ensemble of Chicago, have garnered lasting and consistent acclaim. Others like Fred Anderson and Maurice McIntyre who were equally important to the collective’s development fell into obscurity for a myriad of reasons. Through a string of relatively recent recordings both the men mentioned have turned the tide of anonymity. But to those listeners just becoming acquainted with these wizened pillars of Windy City’s creative music scene a look back into the dearth of recordings from either player’s early years can be disheartening to say the least. In the case of McIntyre this long-anticipated reissue helps elucidate some of the mystery.
Humility may have been McInytre’s first session as a leader, but the music and musicianship yield the mark of a completely mature player from the outset. Adding to the indispensability of the date is a who’s who of AACM heavyweights on hand to lend their talents to the already boiling creative pool. The record conveniently divides into two programmatic halves. The first “Suite: Ensemble Love” includes the haunting title piece a tune of almost tone poem dimensions that encapsulates an incredible depth of emotive urgency into it’s scant running time. It is arguably McIntyre’s finest recorded moment as his full-toned tenor expounds around bowed bass and malleted drums. On several other pieces within the suite Jones gruff vocalizations reference Native American chant forms by way of Chicago’s South Side. Upon repeated listens his contributions which at first sound churlish and haphazard begin to make sense within the context of the other instruments, particularly McIntyre’s concentrated saxophonics.
“Suite: Ensemble Fate” swells the group to octet size. Solo and ensemble passages unfurl as McInytre switches between his reeds. Structured passages of melodic and harmonic certainty alternate with emancipated sections of free form blowing. The AACM penchant for ‘little instruments’ colorations and textures are also incorporated into the wide-open sound canvas. Favors’ bass serves as a rhythmic lightning rod in tandem with Uba drawing in the twining traps of Barker and Ajaramu along with the rest of the electrically charged ensemble. McIntyre woodsy tenor solos assuredly above building an exposition of fiery sonorities before Smith and eventually Stubblefield chime in behind him. Throughout, the very essence of ecstatic energy discourse is uncorked and imbibed from freely. Midway mood eventually dampens through a somber statement from Myers and an somber interplay between drums and bass, but the coda to the composition regains steam in a final blowout.
Though his name may not be as recognized as many of his peers, McIntyre’s contributions to creative improvised music are manifold. This recording, his first of unfortunately few, demonstrates his importance was manifest from the start. Anyone who harbors an interest in the history of the AACM or free jazz in general should seek it out.
Tracks:Suite: Ensemble Love: Hexagon; Kcab Emoh; Pluto Calling; Life Force; Humility In The Light Of Creator/ Suite: Ensemble Fate: Family Tree; Say A Prayer For; Out There (If Anyone Should Call); Melissa; Bismillah/ Humility In The Light Of Creator- alternate.
Players:Maurice McIntyre- tenor saxophone, clarinet, bells, tambourine, bike horn; Malachi Favors- bass; Mchaka Uba- bass; Thurman Barker- drums; Ajaramu- drums; George Hines- vocals; Leo Smith- trumpet, flugelhorn; John Stubblefield, soprano saxophone; Claudine Myers- piano.
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