Friday, September 5, 2014

The Art Ensemble of Chicago in Boston

[The Art Ensemble of Chicago. Front: Roscoe Mitchell, Lester Bowie, Joseph Jarman. Back: Famoudou Don Moye (behind a cymbal), Malachi Favors Maghostut. Lulu White’s, Boston. Probably 1981. Photographer unknown. Click for a larger view.]

I found this newspaper clipping in a file folder that I rediscovered earlier this week. If you look carefully, you can see the tape that held this clipping to an apartment wall long long ago. The photograph most likely appeared in Boston’s Real Paper, an alternative newspaper. Remember alternative newspapers?

I was fortunate to see the Art Ensemble five times between 1980 and 1985: at a midnight concert at New York’s Town Hall, at Lulu White’s in the South End (twice), at Jonathan Swift’s off Harvard Square, and at the Berklee School of Music. Every performance but the last was staggeringly great, some of the most exciting and inspiring music I’ve ever heard. And talk about intimacy: at the club dates an early bird could end up sitting less than ten — or five? — feet from the bandstand.

I remember being admitted to the band’s dressing room in Town Hall and noticing the mix of cigar smoke and pot. I remember standing in the street at three o’clock in the morning talking with Malachi Favors as instruments went onto a truck. Other moments of conversation too, before a show at Lulu White’s, after a show at Jonathan Swift’s. As I said: fortunate.

To the best of my knowledge, this photograph is unavailable elsewhere online.

Related reading
Lulu White, the woman (Wikipedia)
Lulu White, the club (On Troy Street)
Some have gone and some remain (on revisiting Jonathan Swift’s)

Also from this file folder
Jim Doyle on education
A Meeting with Ludwig Wittgenstein
Tile-pilfering questionnaire

[Lester Bowie died in 1999; Malachi Favors in 2004. The Art Ensemble has continued to perform, at least intermittently, as a trio, as a quartet, and as a quintet with trumpeter Corey Wilkes and bassist Jaribu Shahid. For an introduction to the group, I’d recommend Nice Guys (ECM, 1978) or Full Force (ECM, 1980). If you have a little patience, People in Sorrow (Nessa, 1969). There are hours of filmed performances at YouTube. Here’s a good sample.]

comments: 2

Marzek said...

Saw the Art Ensemble open for Nina Simone on a pier in Seattle; part of a summer concert series. (!!!) What a mix, and both were great. No so much the crowd, wch talked throughout the AEC set & did a lot of 'wooo-hooing' during Simone's. Still a memorable experience.

Michael Leddy said...

What a double bill — too bad they didn’t do something together. The AEC recorded at least twice with singers: Fontella Bass (who at one time was married to Lester Bowie) and Brigitte Fontaine.