Off Minor

Musings of a Jazz geek

Art Ensemble of Chicago – Live in Paris

Posted April 17, 2007

Art Ensemble of Chicago - Live in Paris, album cover

This is a two-CD Charly reissue of two long Parisian BYG/Actuel live recordings: Oh, Strange (with the Art Ensemble being Lester Bowie, Roscoe Mitchell, Joseph Jarman, Malachi Favors) and Bon Voyage (where they’re joined by Fontella Bass on vocals). Both date from 1969, although the liner notes don’t make it clear that there’s any particular relationship between the two pieces… Each is a continuous 45 minute(ish) jam thing, each artificially split into two sections as an artifact of the transfer from LP.

The first disc opens up with quite a straight forward free arrangement, where they seem to be trying to keep pretty abstract but, at the same time, fairly structured and conventionally melodic. Unlike their contemporary studio recordings (eg. A Jackson in your House, Message to our folks, Reese and the Smooth ones, Phase One), where they seem to be basically working their way round a room packed with every instrument/noise-making object they can find—and then playing just enough on each one to keep pace—Oh, Strange opens up as more of a conventional (free) sax/percussion ensemble… and it doesn’t quite come together; the broken non-melody, squeezed out the saxophone (and sounding a bit like Albert Ayler tuning up) never really manages to catch on. After about 20 minutes, someone discovers that they’ve got a vibraphone out the back, and they break off into some great minimalist Arkestra-esque space-jazz (for desperate want of a better term) that carries it out for the rest of the disc. Takes a while to get up to speed but, once it does, turns out into quite a nice chilling track. Not particularly captivating… just something nice to have on in the background while you’re going through your emails!…

Bon Voyage starts with a beautiful, delicate, brushes-and-bass thing, that is gradually joined by some grooving percussion… Similar in vein, but more satisfying than Disc 1; a more purely Sun Ra-like Astral free-jam… like listening to protons rain down from Saturn… Fontella Bass makes an appearance only after about half an hour, a human cry of emotional release, carrying it right out to the end…

2 Responses to “Art Ensemble of Chicago – Live in Paris”

Gravatarmapsadaisical said:

#1 (on 18/2/2007 at 4:28 pm )

One of my favourite Art Ensemble albums this one, haven’t listened to it for a while, but you have persuaded me to dig it out again!

GravatarMatt said:

#2 (on 18/2/2007 at 4:35 pm )

Heh ;p

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