The Art Ensemble of Chicago

Go Home/Chi-Congo

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This reissue combines two of the Art Ensemble's rarest late-'60s/early-'70s LPs on a single disc. Go Home is an adventurous (even for this group), 1970 session that encompasses droning, atmospheric introductions and interludes ("Paris Hello Chi," "From Bengali"), rollicking old-timey swing ("From St. Louis"), splattery avant-garde honk-and-clatter ("Fly with Honey Bee") that includes an extended interlude of what sounds like junkyard percussion, a quite beautiful and atmospheric piece including vocals by AEOC trumpeter Lester Bowie's wife, Fontella Bass ("Hello Chi"), and the side-long, Stravinsky-esque "Dance," which features eight additional horn players and a string section. Crisply recorded, it's a showcase for many facets of the Art Ensemble's music, and a major work in their discography. Chi-Congo, also from 1970, is notable for being the group's first album with percussionist Famoudou Don Moye. It features three long pieces. The opening title track is almost entirely percussive in its first half, turning into an atmospheric ballad in its second. "Enlorfe" is a raucous storm of horns, occasionally hard-swinging bass, and crashing cymbals that fade in and out at its midpoint due to the limitations of the original vinyl. In its second half, it too grows calm, leading without interruption into "Hipparipp," which begins with drones before leaping into more horn hyperactivity. Each of these albums is strong on its own; combined on a single disc, they're an essential purchase for avant-jazz fans.

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