REPORT /DRAWINGS: Art Ensemble of Chicago at the Jazz Cafe

Roscoe Michell, Art Ensemble of Chicago at the Jazz Cafe
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2018. All Rights Reserved


Art Ensemble of Chicago
(Jazz Cafe, 4 June 208; report and drawings by Geoff Winston)

Bassists Jaribu Shahid and Junius Paul,
Art Ensemble of Chicago at the Jazz Cafe
Drawing by Geoff Winston. ©2018. All Rights Reserved


There's something wonderful about the way the Art Ensemble of Chicago can confound expectations and travel an unpredictable route. So it was at the Jazz Cafe where they cast a spell of devotional concentration over the packed house, starting with a sequence of profound, sustained meditations on single notes. Roscoe Mitchell lit the fuse, emerging from near-silence, to steer through tangential multiphonics and harmonics on soprano sax, with Famadou Don Moye layering tabla beats underpinned by the bowed bass and cello drones of Junius Paul, Jaribu Shahid and Tomeka Reid.

Hugh Ragin, Art Ensemble of Chicago at the Jazz Cafe
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2018. All Rights Reserved


 Mitchell’s extended sequence set the pattern for Hugh Ragin's brass to take over with unflinchingly tight constraint, building up a hypnotic bed of richly resonant pitches. The Ensemble then flipped in to a lighter, swinging groove which was allowed to self-deconstruct and morph, grasping high frequency whistles and cosmic duck calls along the way. The string basses stuck like glue to a bluesy, funky melody and Mitchell threw in a dash of nursery rhyme while taking up alto powerfully for the lead-out. The encore was not in question! A truly magnificent and memorable evening.


Roscoe Mitchell – alto, soprano and sopranino saxes
Famoudou Don Moye – drums, congas, bongos and percussion
Hugh Ragin – trumpet, flugelhorn and piccolo trumpet
Tomeka Reid – cello
Junius Paul - double bass
Jaribu Shahid – double bass

LINK: AJ Dehany's full review of the AEC in Barcelona

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