September 09, 1972
Jazz, Avant-Garde Jazz, Free Jazz

Album Review

This was the Art Ensemble's breakthrough -- however short-lived -- onto a major U.S. label (Atlantic), as well as a document of the freewheeling band's first appearance at an American festival (the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival). With activist John Sinclair delivering the introduction, politics is in the air; the crowd is young and predisposed to radical ideas and the Art Ensemble holds back nothing in a chaotic, meandering, exasperating, outrageous -- and, thus, always fascinating -- performance. The band seems to be clearing its collective throat in the first half of the concert, opening with a battering all-percussion prelude. Roscoe Mitchell and Malachi Favors go at it at length in a staggered, honking tenor sax/bass duet on "Unanka," and Mitchell ratchets up the gears into screeching overdrive on "Oouffnoon." Finally, after a mocking intro by Lester Bowie, the 15-minute "Ohnedaruth" puts the Art Ensemble on full, ultra-colorful, wailing, free-form display (complete with a few vocal obscenities) before signing off with the "relatively" straight-ahead "Odwalla." It is interesting that Atlantic would lease these way-out recordings to Koch at a time (1998) when it was simultaneously putting out new, safer-sounding releases by the current Art Ensemble and its members.
Richard S. Ginell, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Nfamoudou-Boudougou
  2. Immm
  3. Unanka
  4. Oouffnoon
  5. Ohnedaruth
  6. Odwalla