This landmark album is one of the most influential free jazz recordings in the '60s avant-garde canon. Beginning with the bizarre vocal stylings of bassist Malachi Favors, Tutankhamun's four lengthy tracks are filled with eccentric and eclectic horn arrangements, usually followed by extended improvisations. Creating a canvas of sound that swells from intense to distant, the Art Ensemble use rubato (non-tempo) musical statements with great tonal variety.
What makes the Art Ensemble's music different from others writing free jazz during this period is their use of dynamic contrast. The highlight of Tutankhamun is "The Ninth Room," a piece that emphasizes the experimental soloing abilities of saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell and trumpeter Lester Bowie. Drummer Joseph Jarman uses a variety of unconventional percussion instruments on this track, including various non-discernable metal and wooden objects. This album is for the jazz aficionado looking to explore new aural vistas. The music on Tutankhamun is more about texture than melody, harmony, or even rhythm and counterpoint. The beauty of this music, however, is that the notes we hear offer a compelling and thought-provoking journey into the possibilities of sound itself.