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The Meeting by Art Ensemble of Chicago

When you come out with as many albums as the Art Ensemble of Chicago, some are bound to be, uh, less than wonderful - as much as this is Hip Heresy to state out loud, they all can’t be classics.... or even good. This particular Meeting is one such. I was really hoping this platter, a reunion with multi-reed wiz Joseph Jarman, would be a great one, especially in light of their other recent, mostly superb recording on ECM, Tribute To Lester, commemorating the passing of founding member/trumpeter Lester Bowie. But most of this is the AEC in shtick mode: lots of extended "silences" with minimal bleats from instruments big and small, cathartic saxophone skronk and extended instrumental techniques, clattering percussion, pastel-pretty flutes n’ chimes, some blues-accented hard bop and occasional wandering snatches of melody and rhythm. It’s not that portions of this aren’t good - Mitchell and Jarman are quite compelling at times - but if you’ve heard the AEC at all in the past 20 years, Meeting contains nothing you haven’t heard many times before and (bottom line) better. Further, far too many of the pieces here self-indulgently meander all over the cerebral landscape in a free-form fog for this one to be recommendable to any but the most devoted, must-have-everything fan. You can’t win ‘em all, fellas.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Art Ensemble of Chicago
  • CD Title: The Meeting
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Pi Recordings
  • Musicians: Roscoe Mitchell, Joseph Jarman: winds, percussion; Malachi Favors Maghostus: bass; F. Don Moye: drums, percussion.
  • Rating: One Star
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