Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

121

The Music Ensemble: The Music Ensemble

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
The '70s were, ironically, a fertile period for free jazz. During an era when rock yielded to disco and modal jazz surrendered to fusion, free jazz was experiencing a renaissance. As always, the forces propelling this advance were not financial (when has a freely improvising musician ever made money?). Instead, it was the sense of community that sprang up in cities like Chicago and New York, with (private and public) performances in lofts and cafes. The Music Ensemble, a collective improv group that developed in NYC during the early '70s, featured some strong personalities—but nobody was willing to take the role of leader. That essential feature defined the group's personality, its tone, and its density.

The '74 and '75 live performances documented on this archival recording were captured through a single point mike, so they're intimate but a bit grainy. That doesn't seem to reduce the simmering energy of the group when it hit its stride. The Music Ensemble operates at a high level of density: the entire sextet constantly tugs and tosses ideas around. The idea of "soloist" contradicts the whole philosophy behind the music, so when any given player steps forward with a dramatic statement, he's joined by the others to make it a collective statement. Rather than pursuing simple ideas like call-and-response or rhythmic counterpoint, these players are obsessed with color, texture, and tone. Bassist William Parker plays a key role with long-held arco sweeps that provide a sort of landscape upon which the other players can sketch—though he, too, can be quite dynamic at times. Billy Bang, who delivers some of his most beautifully lyrical passages on record, has his ear closely tuned to the ebb and flow of the current. His playing on "Echoes Wind Transpire" lends a distinctly minor color and evokes a mystical, Eastern atmosphere. Likewise, the colorful percussion lent by various group members on this piece revert it to a tribal essence.

The Music Ensemble favors contemplation over flash-and-bang. It dwells in the deep subconscious rather than the realm of conscious ideation. Spontaneity overshadows any kind of planning. Most magically, this recording manages to integrate five (or six) voices into a coherent whole that can communicate on many simultaneous levels.

Visit Roaratorio Records on the web.


Track Listing: Stance Dance (Courage); Arithmetical Mystic; Echoes Wind Transpire; Radiatory Fineness.

Personnel: Roger Baird: drums, percussion, tabla, flutes; Billy Bang: violin, percussion; Malik Baraka: trumpet; Daniel Carter: tenor and alto saxophones, flutes, drums, percussion; William Parker: bass; Herb Kahn: bass (1)

Title: The Music Ensemble | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Roaratorio Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Journey to a New World CD/LP/Track Review Journey to a New World
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Disappeared Behind the Sun CD/LP/Track Review Disappeared Behind the Sun
by John Sharpe
Published: January 21, 2018
Read 2018 Neujahrskonzert New Year’s Concert CD/LP/Track Review 2018 Neujahrskonzert New Year’s Concert
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Lux CD/LP/Track Review Lux
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 20, 2018
Read Unleashed CD/LP/Track Review Unleashed
by John Sharpe
Published: January 20, 2018
Read "Rising Tide" CD/LP/Track Review Rising Tide
by Geannine Reid
Published: May 16, 2017
Read "Honey And Salt" CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 22, 2017
Read "As It Should Be: Ballads 2" CD/LP/Track Review As It Should Be: Ballads 2
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "Small Town" CD/LP/Track Review Small Town
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 4, 2017
Read "Diablo en Brooklyn" CD/LP/Track Review Diablo en Brooklyn
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: January 11, 2018
Read "Tag Book" CD/LP/Track Review Tag Book
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 19, 2017