Our Blog

Art Ensemble Of Chicago - Les Stances A Sophie (1970)



In 1970, the members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago were living as expatriates in Paris. The group had only recently expanded to its permanent quintet status with the addition of drummer/percussionist Don Moye when they were asked by New Wave director Moshe Misrahi to provide the soundtrack for his movie, Les Stances a Sophie. The music was never used in the film but, luckily, it was recorded. The result was one of the landmark records of the burgeoning avant-garde of the time and, simply put, one of the greatest jazz albums ever. On two of the tracks, the Art Ensemble is joined by vocalist Fontella Bass, at the time the wife of trumpeter Lester Bowie and riding the success of her pop-soul hit Rescue Me. She's featured most prominently on the opening number, Theme De Yoyo, an astounding piece that has achieved legendary status as the finest fusion of funk and avant-garde jazz ever recorded. The mix is indeed seamless, with Moye and Favors laying down a throbbing, infectious groove, Bass singing the surreally erotic lyrics with enormous soul and the horn players soloing with ecstatic abandon. The remaining pieces cover a wide range stylistically with no less beauty and imagination, including two variations on a theme by Monteverdi, intense free improvising and soft, deeply probing sonic investigations.Their extensive knowledge of prior jazz styles, love of unusual sound sources (the so-called "little instruments) and fearless exploration of the furthest reaches of both instrumental and compositional possibilities came into full flower on this record.In 1970, the members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago were living as expatriates in Paris. The group had only recently expanded to its permanent quintet status with the addition of drummer/percussionist Don Moye when they were asked by New Wave director Moshe Misrahi to provide the soundtrack for his movie, Les Stances a Sophie. The music was never used in the film but, luckily, it was recorded. The result was one of the landmark records of the burgeoning avant-garde of the time and, simply put, one of the greatest jazz albums ever. On two of the tracks, the Art Ensemble is joined by vocalist Fontella Bass, at the time the wife of trumpeter Lester Bowie and riding the success of her pop-soul hit Rescue Me. She's featured most prominently on the opening number, Theme De Yoyo, an astounding piece that has achieved legendary status as the finest fusion of funk and avant-garde jazz ever recorded. The mix is indeed seamless, with Moye and Favors laying down a throbbing, infectious groove, Bass singing the surreally erotic lyrics with enormous soul and the horn players soloing with ecstatic abandon. The remaining pieces cover a wide range stylistically with no less beauty and imagination, including two variations on a theme by Monteverdi, intense free improvising and soft, deeply probing sonic investigations.Their extensive knowledge of prior jazz styles, love of unusual sound sources (the so-called "little instruments) and fearless exploration of the furthest reaches of both instrumental and compositional possibilities came into full flower on this record.

Lester Bowie - trumpet
Malachi Favors Maghostut - bass, vocals
Joseph Jarman - saxophones, clarinets
Roscoe Mitchell - saxophones, clarinets, flute
Fontella Bass - vocals, piano
Don Moye - drums



They formed, of course, in the American city that constitutes part of their band moniker. But this 1970 album by the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, re-released on Soul Jazz, was in fact recorded in Paris, the four main AEOC members having formed part of the late '60s exodus that also brought to France Archie Shepp, Don Cherry and Anthony Braxton.

The location is significant because Les Stances A Sophie—a soundtrack for a 1971 New Wave film of the same title, though the fact that the album pre-dates the film accounts for its stand-alone strength—is a record they would surely never have made had they stayed home. That's true in the most literal sense, because it was in France that they befriended the film's director, Moshe Mizrahi. But it's also true in broader artistic terms, the European location shining through most explicitly in the two tracks inspired by Italian Baroque composer Claudio Monteverdi, "Variations Sur Un Theme De Monteverdi I" and "II."

Yet Western classical music formed only a relatively small part of the AEOC's outlandish vision, self-defined simply as Great Black Music: Ancient To Future. More important was indigenous African music (every member plays percussion as well as their main instrument, and some are pictured on the front cover in trademark tribal facepaint) and jazz. "Theme Libre" and "Theme De Celine" both contain the sort of free jazz freak-outs for which the Ensemble are probably best known; elsewhere the influence of blues and older jazz Forms can be felt, as well as the more obviously cinematic, low-key atmospherics of "Theme Amour Universal" and "Proverbes I."

Easily the most immediate track, however, is opener "Theme De Yoyo," where the band is joined by vocalist (and wife of trumpeter Lester Bowie) Fontella Bass, she of soul classic "Rescue Me." As the only tune previously easily available, some fans will already know it as a minor cult classic—but surely no amount of familiarity can dull the potency of these nine minutes of rapturous soul jazz. (Marcus O'Dair)

link in comments

3 komentarze:

Ankh pisze...

link

Rev. Dr. Moller. MDMA, THC and BAR. pisze...

Dzienkuje bardo, many thanks.

Ankh pisze...

Thank You very much. I'm very grateful for Your comments.

The Savage Saints Designed by Templateism | Blogger Templates Copyright © 2014

Autor obrazów motywu: richcano. Obsługiwane przez usługę Blogger.