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Fanfare for the Warriors by Art Ensemble of Chicago

Those humans at Koch have done it again - made a long-unavailable classic accessible to a new generation & old fans without having to shell out 25 bucks or so for an expensive import.

This AEC album - one of their best -comes from an era where avant-garde/cutting-edge/"difficult" music could still find a home on The Major Labels (in this case, Atlantic). Previously, the AEC could only get their music out on indie & European labels - not that this album made the charts, but it made them a bit easier to find at the chain stores. The band made no compromises when they made Fanfare - their envelope-pushing "free" style/concept remained. Least you think that music was or is "all chaos," dig "Barnyard Scuffel Shuffel," which could, with its echoes of Louis Jordan, Louis Prima & Big Jay McNeely, could've had the kids boppin' in 1949 or 1955.

"What's To Say" is a beautiful, shimmering fusion of the percussion musics of Africa, the AEC's free-with-abstract-lyricism aesthetic, and a touches of the impressionism of Debussy (who was himself influenced by S.E. Asian music). "Tnoona" is a scary voyage into breathy, sustained, almost minimalist tones, before Stravinsky comes in to conduct the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. "The Key" is calypso-tinged bop - or so they'd have you believe - "the cat & the rat now know the score," indeed.

If you're an AEC fan, you'll have to have this; if you're a newcomer to free jazz, this is a fine place to start; if you're a young noise-monger (as I once was) who is into powerful & extreme & mysterious music (Gastr del Sol, Borbetomagus, William Parker, John Zorn), GET this. Now.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Art Ensemble of Chicago
  • CD Title: Fanfare for the Warriors
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 1999
  • Record Label: Koch Jazz Records
  • Musicians: Joseph Jarman (soprano saxophone, flute); Roscoe Mitchell (saxophone); Lester Bowie (trumpet, flugelhorn); Malachi Favors (bass); Don Moye (drums) Additional personnel: Muhal Richard Abrams (piano).
  • Rating: Five Stars
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