Tutankhamun

The Art Ensemble Of Chicago

Org Music, 2019

http://www.akamu.net/aeoc.htm

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/14/2019

The Art Ensemble Of Chicago's 1969 release, Tutankhamun, is an album that has been out of print for three decades now. Now it is returning and is remastered with two tracks not on the original free jazz classic. Long considered a pivotal record in the avant-garde scene, on this oddly charming and irresistible listening multi-instrumentalists Lester Bowie, Roscoe Mitchell, Joseph Jarman, and Malachi Favors Maghostut pull off some incredible texturing.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Side A consists of two tracks. First is the 18 minutes of “Tutankhamun,” which offers three minutes of spoken word before the intricate interplay between the horns, sitar and flutes. Low ebbs of soft bellowing are met with adventurous moments that could emanate from multiple continents with its culture hopping approach. “Tthintthedalen: Part 1” follows and is a much shorter affair, and offers plucky bass, squealing brass, clarinets, and a seemingly improvised mashing of unmatched talent.

Side B follows a similar course with the lengthy “The Ninth Room,” which is a more straightforward jazz tune conceived by Roscoe Mitchell. It recruits light percussion, bells, and a small army of noisemakers with random vocals/talking that gets more exploratory as the 15 minutes goes on, while saxophone and trumpet solos are scattered throughout the track. “Tthinittedalen: Part 2” ends the album, bringing a chaotic and lightning quick fury of avant-garde ideas that occasionally pause with sparse moments of meticulousness.

Even if you frequent the free jazz scene, it's unlikely you've heard anything quite like this before. From atypical vocal techniques to pieced together horn patterns that are part feral, part genius, and entirely unusual, and with improvisational techniques that few, if anyone, could replicate, The Art Ensemble Of Chicago was so far ahead of their time in 1969, that people still haven't caught up to the creative brilliance present here. This reissue is certainly very welcomed and comes in a great package with back cover being a lengthy story on the band's early days.

Rating: A-

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