New Art Ensemble of Chicago Released

Pi Recordings is the home of the latest AEOC release, a double CD.

The Art Ensemble of Chicago’s Non-cognitive Aspects of the City is a double CD representing two sets recorded during the band’s rare six-night engagement, March 30th through April 4th 2004, at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City. Engagements of that length are rare nowadays and Pi Recordings was anxious to be able to hear the band develop their sound in front of an audience in one city for a week straight. Rarer even than that though is the induction of new members, Corey Wilkes (t) and Jaribu Shahid (b) into a band with a history and influence as deep as the Art Ensemble’s. We were there all six nights, 14 sets in all, and it was amazing to see the band coalesce and grow over the course of the week. Early in the week, the musicians were understandably somewhat tentative, which one would expect with new musicians coming to a music that is so unique and so drenched in its own ritual and tradition. But by the time of these recordings on Friday and Saturday nights, the band was playing as one with power and cohesion. Some will inevitably try to compare Jaribu to Malachi and Corey to Lester, a fool’s errand for sure. Both bring their own strengths and voice to the music and neither try to copy the style of their predecessors. Corey would tell us later that he was in awe that entire week, as it seemed that the entire extended AACM family attended the shows. In fact, Corey said he gained a great deal of confidence after Lester Bowie’s wife Deborah encouraged him to carry on the trumpet tradition in the band and thanked him for doing his own thing and not trying to imitate Lester. These same musicians, two years after this recording, continue to perform and perpetuate the legacy of The Art Ensemble of Chicago.

The two CDs are the first readily available live releases to exclusively feature The Art Ensemble since their Live in Japan release of 1984. The two complete sets on two CDs capture the band in all its unpredictable glory while at the same time observing the ritual of an Art Ensemble set. The music runs the gamut: Joseph Jarman’s spirituality and poetry (“The J Song” and “Erika”), straight out funk driven by Jaribu and Don Moye (“Big Red Peaches”), a warped take on hard-bop (“Song for My Sister”), open explorations (Red Sand Green Water) and a dedication to a comrade past (“Malachi”). Each set is wrapped up by a different version of the band’s theme song “Odwalla”.

Non-cognitive Aspects of the City continues Pi Recordings’ documentation of one of music’s most important bands and one of America’s greatest treasures. More importantly though, it captures the continuing development of the band as they move forward and carry on what is now one of the longest running musical associations in any style of music. It also makes clear what the band has always known: It’s not about “who” is doing it, but about “what” is being done. Not surprisingly, the “who” here is more than up to the challenge. With the front line once again filled out, the band is able to stretch out and create vital music in the way that has influenced everyone from the Vandermark 5 and John Zorn to the Anti-Pop Consortium.


New and Coming on Thirsty Ear

Thirsty Ear has announced a few new releases:

Carl Hancock Rux “Good Bread Alley” (view epk for Good Bread Alley)
Carl Hancock Rux’s Thirsty Ear debut, “Good Bread Alley”, will be
ming out in May. Carl Hancock Rux’s soulful delivery of neo-blues is rivaled only by his thoughtful and at times scathing social commentary. His words are surrounded in this album by swirling musical compositions and a brilliant cohesive sensibility that puts you in the mind of this creative talent. This heady brew of eclectic soul demands one’s attention, and makes the listener interact with the blues.

Sex Mob’s debut Thirsty Ear Release
Sex Mob is in the studio, creating their debut Thirsty Ear release. The album entitled “Sexotica” is written and performed in the spirit of Martin Denny, the father of “Exotica.” Prepare for a lush cinematic journey that will take you to a new place?

The Blue Series Free-Zen Society “Free-Zen”
This Blue Series chamber ensemble came together in NYC with artistic director Matthew Shipp on piano, bassist William Parker and harpist extraordinaire Zeena Parkins (Bjork, Ikaw ay Mori) to create the basis of a new collaborative work to be rewoven through electronic means by producer Peter Gordon.

Evander Music

Evander Music is a label that features a number of new-music artists. An edited lsit follows:

Industrial Jazz Group
Los Angeles-based large ensemble led by composer Andrew Durkin

Good for Cows
Devin Hoff, bass; Ches Smith, drums.

Phillip Greenlief
Woodwinds, Composer

Bill Horvitz Band
Bill Horvitz, guitar; Steve Adams, reeds; Joe Sabella, drums

Jettison Slinky
Graham Connah, Ben Goldberg, Marty Wehner, Rob Sudduth, Jewlia Eisenberg, Nancy Clarke, Lee Alexander, Smith Dobson Jr

Kaolithic Music
Clayton Bailey, Bob Bassara, Linda Elvira Piedra, Jon Raskin

The Lost Trio
Phillip Greenlief, saxophones; Dan Seamans, bass; Tom Hassett, drums

Miss Henry
Miss Henry, voice; Alex Candelaria, guitar; Calder Spaniel, saxophone; Michael Blustein, piano; Leo Boumeister, piano; Todd Sickafoose, bass; Tom Lyne, bass; Scott Amendola, drums; Eric Crystal, tenor sax

Dan Seamans
Bassist and founding member of The Lost Trio, The New Klezmer Trio, and with bassist with Graham Connah’s Jettison Slinky, Sonya Hunter, and many others

Todd Sickafoose
Bassist, Bandleader, Composer

Ches Smith
Drums, founding member of Good For Cows

Sarah Wilson
Sarah Wilson’s music is an “improviser’s dream,” says internationally acclaimed composer/pianist Myra Melford. Her music is “rich with suggestion and possibility: ebullient and tender, poignant and humorous.”

Veteran jazz musicians find new energy as a duo

An article covers the Sonny Fortune / Rashied Ali duo and their upcoming shows in Oakland.

Like gym rats who repeatedly push one another to new feats of physical endurance, alto saxophonist Sonny Fortune and drummer Rashied Ali turn every performance into a sweaty test of creative stamina.

Working together over the past decade, they have developed a muscular sound built on long, flowing, independent lines that converge and separate sequentially over dozens of choruses. Using standards such as “Love for Sale,” “Cherokee,” “The Song Is You” and John Coltrane’s “Impressions” as launching pads for 45-minute-plus odysseys, Fortune and Ali have forged their rigorous but unfettered art form.

Site Update

We’ve recently upgraded our blog software to fix a few issues. You shouldn’t notice a difference but if something seems to not be working properly, drop us a line.

One of the things we get asked occasionally is “How big is AMN?” In other words, how many readers do we have? This is a very hard if not impossible thing to measure, with web crawlers, automatic feed readers, multiple users sharing internet addresses, etc. Just counting hits doesn’t work. However according to two fairly reliable services that we use, Statcounter and Feedburner, we seem to have in the range of 400-500 regular readers.

In any case, our readership has slowly grown over the 3+ years our the site’s existence, with little or no publicity or pushing of the site by yours truly. And we continue to get, and appreciate, all the nice comments and emails we receive. Thanks.