8 Bold Souls Last Option

Some of the most forward thinking abstractions in jazz of the last 40 years have come from Chicago, where the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians have explored new forms of collectivity not only in performing and recording music, but in active fundraising, education, and the repair and recycling of damaged instruments. Longstanding AACM member Edward Wilkerson and his group, 8 Bold Souls, furthers the AACM’s credo: great black music, ancient to future. They take on all styles, from New Orleans brass workouts to tone poems. A chief influence is Henry Threadgill, as the band features both a cellist and a bassist, and most pieces have an elaborate, suite-like flow. Everyone plays with inventive soulfulness and the compositions, particularly “Last Option” and “The Art of Tea” reveal more and more with continued listening. Somehow, though, the playing and the compositions are diminished by an unexciting recording. There is nothing technically wrong with the balance of the instruments, but perhaps an outside producer could have raised the energy level. (Thrill Jockey)