10

The Art Ensemble of Chicago: We Are On The Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
The Art Ensemble of Chicago: We Are On The Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration
Seventy plus recordings and fifty years since the inception of The Art Ensemble Of Chicago. I mean the Roscoe Mitchell Art Ensemble, its original name. Born of Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), the band sojourned to Paris and soon changed its name to The Art Ensemble Of Chicago to reflect the corroborative process of its members. With the move an enduring quintet was formed with Mitchell, Famoudou Don Moye, Lester Bowie, Malachi Favors, and Joseph Jarman. What a ride it must have been to be a listener these first fifty years. The AEC changed jazz, new music, world music, and performance art. Where did you step into the constant river of sound that is the AEC? Was it in the early years documented by Nessa Records, the French label BYG's live European recordings, or the later dates captured by ECM or Japan's DIW Records? Whenever it was, charting the progressions and experimentations could only be amplified if you had the opportunity to hear each disc as it became available. Playing catchup is possible thanks to several reissues which include the massive 21-CD boxset The Art Ensemble Of Chicago And Associated Ensembles (ECM, 2018).

But much like the AACM's theme "Great black music ancient to the future," the 2-CD release We Are On The Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration reignites some AEC classics and sets sail to the future. Recorded at and around the 2018 Edgefest in Ann Arbor, Michigan, this disc is the fourth AEC release by Pi Records and it follows Non-Cognitive Aspects Of The City -Live At Iridium (2006). Gone are Lester Bowie, Malachi Favors, and Joseph Jarman. But certainly their spirits live in this expanded lineup, which includes the relatively new AACM members Nicole Mitchell and Tomeka Reid and Mitchell collaborators Hugh Ragin, Jaribu Shahid, and Fred Berry.

The discs are split between a studio session and a live performance. In studio the AEC revisits music from Chi-Congo (Decca, 1972) to Coming Home Jamaica (Atlantic, 1998) and Mitchell's "Bell Song." The studio session boosts the afrofuturist poetry and vocals of Moor Mother (Camae Ayewa) and the lush vocals of Rodolfo Cordova-Lebron. Mitchell flexes his classical leanings alongside minimal soundscapes, percussive excursions, and an eternal groove "Saturday Morning" that lingers long after the music stops.

With this extended ensemble size Moye and Mitchell are in their element, and the live disc, which repeats five compositions from the studio recordings, takes the affair to another level. You come to the realization why the early AEC recordings were live. There was a concerted effort to capture the band's essence, and that is this music is a living entity. Indeed, the set from the Bethlehem Church of Christ in Ann Arbor is as vibrant as any of the music the AEC released these past 50 years. Long live the Art Ensemble of Chicago.

Personnel

Art Ensemble Of Chicago: band/orchestra.

Album information

Title: We Are on the Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Pi Recordings

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read An Open Dialogue
An Open Dialogue
Linda Sikhakhane
Read Rah! Rah!
Rah! Rah!
The Claire Daly Band
Read Artlessly Falling
Artlessly Falling
Mary Halvorson's Code Girl
Read Hi-Fly
Hi-Fly
Howard University Jazz Ensemble
Read And Then It Rained
And Then It Rained
The Michael O'Neill Quartet
Read You're It!
You're It!
The Mike Melito / Dino Losito Quartet
Read URBAN(E)
URBAN(E)
Mike Fahie Jazz Orchestra

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.