Sunday, February 17, 2013

Art Ensemble of Chicago

In 1970, the members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago were living as expatriates in Paris. The group had only recently expanded to its permanent quintet status with the addition of drummer/percussionist Don Moye when they were asked by New Wave director Moshe Misrahi to provide the soundtrack for his movie, Les Stances a Sophie. The music was never used in the film but, luckily, it was recorded. The result was one of the landmark records of the burgeoning avant-garde of the time and, simply put, one of the greatest jazz albums ever. On two of the tracks, the Art Ensemble is joined by vocalist Fontella Bass, at the time the wife of trumpeter Lester Bowie and riding the success of her pop-soul hit Rescue Me. She's featured most prominently on the opening number, Theme De Yoyo, an astounding piece that has achieved legendary status as the finest fusion of funk and avant-garde jazz ever recorded. The mix is indeed seamless, with Moye and Favors laying down a throbbing, infectious groove, Bass singing the surreally erotic lyrics with enormous soul and the horn players soloing with ecstatic abandon. The remaining pieces cover a wide range stylistically with no less beauty and imagination, including two variations on a theme by Monteverdi, intense free improvising and soft, deeply probing sonic investigations.Their extensive knowledge of prior jazz styles, love of unusual sound sources (the so-called "little instruments) and fearless exploration of the furthest reaches of both instrumental and compositional possibilities came into full flower on this record.
Brian Olewnick
Source :

The Art Ensemble of Chicago
Les Stances à Sophie


1 Thème de Yoyo 9:10
2 Thème de Céline 3:04
3 Variations Sur un Thème de Monteverdi I 3:02
4 Variations Sur un Thème de Monteverdi II 1:50
5 Proverbes, No. 1 2:38
6 Thème Amour Universal 3:51
7 Thème Libre 8:49
8 Proverbes, No. 2 1:22

All Compositions by Art Ensemble of Chicago

Roscoe Mitchell - ss, as, bs & perc
Joseph Jarman - ts, as, ss, fl & perc
Lester Bowie - tp, flgh & perc
Malachi Favors - b, el. b & perc
Don Moye - dr
Fontella Bass - voc & p

Recorded in the Studios of Pathé Marconi in Boulogne (France) ; July 22, 1970


La Danse de Puck said...

An absolutely fantastic group that I discovered in the late 70's during a time I spent with some independent music makers here in Buenos Aire, Lito Vitale, Dino Saluzzi, while I was "trying" to learn "improvisation" on the piano... pretty impossible task after classical training since I was a child!

Leopold said...

Pernath said...

Thanks Leopold!!!

CrunchyFrog said...

thanks! I've heard a little bit of these guys before and loved it... can't wait to check out more of their work.

Gabriel Ferreira said...

What's the password?

jazzfan1 said...

Password not working on this either. Would appreciate a hint.

otokoume said...

Mel, Leopold, it would be great to re-up this!