German writer and percussionist Hartmut Geerken receives top billing on this two-CD set featuring his musical involvement with the Art Ensemble of Chicago, recorded live in 1996. With this 2001 release, the musicians' actualize correlations between poet/philosophers Salomo Friedlander/Myona, and American bandleader Sun Ra, while Geerken also happens to be the curator of Friedlander's works. To some extent, the Art Ensemble of Chicago had lost a bit of their creative luster during the '90s, which is partly evident here. On CD one, for example, the band never really engages in any cohesive ensemble work until 25 minutes of theatrical escapades wind down. Here, the listener will be treated to narratives atop various percussion interludes, garbled voices, and some celebratory antics prior to the band's execution of bluesy passages and mid-tempo swing vamps. Otherwise, CD two commences with the musicians chanting an intro (i.e., one, two, three, four) in round-robin-like fashion amid more painstakingly long theatrics consisting of groans, shouts, and tribal rhythms. However, when the band actually plays there are moments of interest, yet this outing might have fared better during the live experience then on record.
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AllMusic Review by Glenn Astarita
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2