Sunday night's Art Ensemble of Chicago show was broadcast to 50 radio stations by the Sounds Like Thunder Audio Collective in Washington, not by National Public Radio, as reported earlier this week.
The Art Ensemble of Chicago opened its show at the 9:30 club Sunday night with softly reverberating gongs and a rich blues ballad from Lester Bowie's trumpet. The doctor-smocked Bowie pulled away, and Joseph Jarman, in bright tribal costume, hit bicycle horns and bells in a noisy, free-wheeling passage. Then war-painted Malachi Favors Maghostus lit into a fast bop tempo on his stand-up bass, and the other three leapt to keep up. Famoudou Don Moye compressed his drum rolls; Jarman rattled his xylophone; Bowie stuttered his trumpet notes. An ending tone was suspended and then gave way to an airy percussion jam of gongs and cymbals. Jarman's flute fluttered atop that, and then Bowie's trumpet launched a modal jazz attack over an African rhythm. Jarman's tenor sax joined the trumpet for a furious duet. And this was just half of a 45-minute piece.
Every sound and style emerged organically from what preceded. A background element in one passage would become dominant in the next section. Thus their playing implied an underlying unity in not only music but in life in general. The 17-year-old quintet certainly missed absent saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, but they adjusted. The second set was broadcast to 60 stations over National Public Radio. The Art Ensemble of Chicago will play at the Ninth St. Crossings Festival in the fall.