Art Ensemble of Chicago

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The Art Ensemble of Chicago is an avant-garde jazz group that grew out of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) in the late 1960s.[1] The ensemble integrates many jazz styles and plays many instruments, including "little instruments": bells, bicycle horns, birthday party noisemakers, wind chimes, and various forms of percussion. The musicians wear costumes and face paint while performing. These characteristics combine to make the ensemble's performances both aural and visual. While playing in Europe in 1969, five hundred instruments were used.[2]

Art Ensemble of Chicago
Art Ensemble of Chicago, New Jazz Festival Moers (Moers Festival), 1978
Art Ensemble of Chicago, New Jazz Festival Moers (Moers Festival), 1978
Background information
OriginChicago, Illinois, U.S.
GenresAvant-garde jazz, free jazz
Years active1969–present
LabelsBYG, Nessa, Delmark, ECM, AECO, Pi
Past members


After a concert at the Unitarian Church in Evanston, Illinois, in fall, 1968, the group traveled to Paris.[3] In Paris, the ensemble was based at the Théâtre des Vieux Colombier.[4]

Member Joseph Jarman died on January 9, 2019 of respiratory failure.[5][6] He described part of their style:

So what we were doing with that face painting was representing everyone throughout the universe, and that was expressed in the music as well. That's why the music was so interesting. It wasn't limited to Western instruments, African instruments, or Asian instruments, or South American instruments, or anybody's instruments.[7]

As of 2017-2019, the two remaining active members from 1968-2003, with new and previous collaborators as "guests", have been touring as the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and released an album in 2019:[8][9][10][11]

  • Roscoe Mitchell – saxophones;
  • Famoudou Don Moye – drums, congas and percussion.



Title Year Label
Sound - Roscoe Mitchell Sextet 1966 Delmark
Old/Quartet - Roscoe Mitchell 1967 Nessa
Numbers 1 & 2 - Lester Bowie 1967 Nessa
Early Combinations - Art Ensemble 1967 Nessa
Congliptious - Roscoe Mitchell Art Ensemble 1968 Nessa
A Jackson in Your House 1969 BYG Actuel
Tutankhamun 1969 Freedom
The Spiritual 1969 Freedom
People in Sorrow 1969 Nessa
Message to Our Folks 1969 BYG-Actuel
Reese and the Smooth Ones 1969 BYG-Actuel
Eda Wobu 1969 JMY
Comme à la radio 1970 Saravah
Certain Blacks 1970 America
Go Home 1970 Galloway
Chi-Congo 1970 Paula
Les Stances a Sophie 1970 Nessa
Live in Paris 1970 Freedom
Art Ensemble of Chicago with Fontella Bass 1970 America
Phase One 1971 America
Live at Mandel Hall 1972 Delmark
Bap-Tizum 1972 Atlantic
Fanfare for the Warriors 1973 Atlantic
Kabalaba 1974 AECO
Nice Guys 1978 ECM
Live in Berlin 1979 West Wind
Full Force 1980 ECM
Urban Bushmen 1980 ECM
Among the People 1980 Praxis
The Third Decade 1984 ECM
The Complete Live in Japan recorded 1984 1985, expanded 1988 DIW
Naked 1986 DIW
Ancient to the Future 1987 DIW
The Alternate Express 1989 DIW
Art Ensemble of Soweto 1990 DIW
America - South Africa 1990 DIW
Dreaming of the Masters Suite 1990 DIW
Thelonious Sphere Monk: Dreaming of the Masters Series Vol. 2 with Cecil Taylor 1990 DIW
Live at the 6th Tokyo Music Joy 1990 DIW
Salutes the Chicago Blues Tradition 1993 AECO
Coming Home Jamaica 1996 Atlantic
Urban Magic 1997 Musica
Tribute to Lester 2001 ECM
Reunion 2003 Around jazz / Il Manifesto
The Meeting 2003 Pi
Sirius Calling 2004 Pi
Non-Cognitive Aspects of the City recorded 2004 2006 Pi
Fundamental Destiny, recorded 1991 with Don Pullen[11] 2007 AECO
Live At Earshot Jazz Festival, 2002 with Fred Anderson[11] 2007 Milo
Peace Be Unto You with Fred Anderson[11] 2008 AECO
We Are On The Edge (A 50th Anniversary Celebration)[11] 2019 Pi

Further readingEdit

  • Steinbeck, Paul. Message to Our Folks: The Art Ensemble of Chicago. University of Chicago Press, 2017.
  • Lewis, George E.. A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music. University of Chicago Press, 2008.
  • Shipton, Alyn. A New History of Jazz. London: Continuum, 2001.


  • 1982 - Live From the Jazz Showcase: The Art Ensemble of Chicago (directed by William J Mahin, the University of Illinois at Chicago). Filmed at Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase in Chicago, November 1, 1981.


  1. ^ Cook, Richard (2005). Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia. London: Penguin Books. p. 21. ISBN 0-141-00646-3.
  2. ^ Jost, Ekkehard (1975). Free Jazz (Studies in Jazz Research 4). Universal Edition. p. 177.
  3. ^ Wilmer, Valerie (1977). As Serious As Your Life: The Story of the New Jazz. Quartet. pp. 122–123.
  4. ^ Jost, Ekkehard (1975). Free Jazz (Studies in Jazz Research 4). Universal Edition. p. 167.
  5. ^ Chinen, Nate (January 11, 2019). "Joseph Jarman, 81, Dies; Mainstay of the Art Ensemble of Chicago". Retrieved January 18, 2019.
  6. ^ Jazz Musician and Buddhist Priest Joseph Jarman Dead at 81: Pitchfork. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
  7. ^ Joseph Jarman interview Archived March 20, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Chinen, Nate (October 6, 2017). "The Art Ensemble of Chicago Celebrates 50 Years Of Channeling And Challenging History". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2019-05-21.
  9. ^ Shteamer, Hank (March 25, 2019). "The Art Ensemble of Chicago on the Past and Future of Their 'Great Black Music'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2019-05-21.
  10. ^ "The Art Ensemble of Chicago". AKAMU SAS di Lofoco Alberto. 2019. Retrieved 2019-05-21.
  11. ^ a b c d e "The Art Ensemble Of Chicago". Discogs. 2019. Retrieved 2019-05-21.

External linksEdit