Art Ensemble of Chicago with Fontella Bass The Art Ensemble of Chicago with Fontella Bass

The Art Ensemble of Chicago has to be one of the longest running music collectives in the history of Black improvised music; their ranks reduced by death alone. This recording returns to us from 1971 when their music was graced by the presence of Ms. Fontella Bass (then Mrs. Lester Bowie, the trumpet of the group) whose R&B hit "Rescue Me” placed her squarely in the history of American pop music. The CD starts with "How Strange/Ole Jed,” a joyous African drum and vocal song that slides into a blues wail by Ms. Bass that is set into relief by an introspective freely improvised accompaniment. This again telescopes out into bird noises, silences and finally a 30-second blast of neo bebop. The storyline is a head-scratcher about a death. The second track, "Horn Webb,” is an instrumental piece of almost stunning purity. To listen to this and realise that most of the material is improvised is to marvel at the dedication and genius of Bowie, Favors, Jarman, Mitchell and Moye as a collective unit. This disc is a great starting point for the curious and a must-have for the collector. "Great Black Music; Ancient to Future”. (America)