Monday, 3 January 2011

Funky New Year

I had the pleasure of seeing the Art Ensemble of Chicago twice in London, a number of years ago. Neither show featured Joseph Jarman, who had already become a Buddhist monk, and in the second show, Roscoe Mitchell was replaced by a tenor/soprano player, I believe due to ill health. Both shows were amazing, but it would have been nice to have caught them a bit earlier, as an intact unit with a much more elaborate set-up. This version of "Funky AECO" cuts off abruptly, but the footage and performance are outstanding. It seems as though this piece always produced surprises when played live, such as the Japanese recording where Joseph Jarman's sopranino sax squares off against Roscoe Mitchell's bass sax (also seen here). Their sense of abandon and discovery in revisiting their own repertoire was a unique and beautiful thing, and something I wish more musicians had some sense of. If this is your sort of scene, then stick around for the three-part documentary which follows.

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