THE ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO — Areski / Brigitte Fontaine Avec Art Ensemble Of Chicago : Comme À La Radio (review)

THE ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO — Areski / Brigitte Fontaine Avec Art Ensemble Of Chicago : Comme À La Radio album cover Album · 1969 · Avant-Garde Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
snobb
Early French period (1969-1971) for great American band Art Ensemble of Chicago (AEOC) was their most experimental and left to listeners all series of free-form albums. One of most successful their all-time album, recorded at Pathé Marconi Studios in Boulogne on July 22, 1970 (Bande Sonore Originale Du Film "Les Stances À Sophie")and coming from "French period" is different though - soundtrack to French movie it heavily based on Fontella Bass gospel/r'n'b vocals and represents explosive mix of American jazz tradition and freer arrangements.

The other album of similar nature,released more or less at the same time is far not so well known, especially outside of France, where it was recorded and released. Nothing strange - two of main heroes here are French percussionist and vocalist Areski Belkacem and popular French art-pop vocalist Brigitte Fontaine, so it was oriented mostly to domestic listener.

If "Les Stances À Sophie" was credited to AEOC , "Comme À La Radio" is credited to Areski / Brigitte Fontaine and AEOC are stated as supporting band, what looks like logical decision."Les Stances..." demonstrates very American kind of jazz,"Comme À La Radio" is unique for its time synthesis of American free jazz and European urban music tradition (and it sounds very European-like).

In late 60s-early 70s Brigitte Fontaine was popular in France chanson and art-pop singer, not related with jazz though. It great to hear how organic her French chanson sounds in combination with American free jazz and Areski's rhythms (Areski Belkacem was one of very first percussionist introduced African rhythms to European listener). AEOC line-up improved with some French musicians and becomes even more multi-cultural but surprisingly not more eclectic - Afro-American free jazz and French urban art-pop found unique balanced sound here you can hardly imagine is possible.

This rare album was reissued on CD in France and Japan, but was never released in States and it's a real pity - AEOC fans would be really surprised founding such unusual side of great American band.
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