Best records of 2019

Art Ensemble of Chicago
We Are On The Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration (Pi Recordings)

The Art Ensemble of Chicago has been at the forefront of creative improvised music since 1969, and has long served as the flagship ensemble of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), the august Chicago-based organization that also fostered the careers of members such as Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, and Wadada Leo Smith, among many others. The greatness of the Art Ensemble has always been the shared commitment of its original members – Roscoe Mitchell, Lester Bowie, Joseph Jarman, Malachi Favors, and Famoudou Don Moye – to the total realm of African diasporic music: what they have long-termed “Great Black Music—Ancient to the Future.” Also important are the group’s disparate musical and artistic personalities, comprised of jazz, advanced compositional techniques, theatrical performance, poetry, Pan-African percussion, all tied together with improvisational flair and the exploration of pure sound.

Comprised of two discs: a meticulous studio session and the capture of a rousing live set at Edgefest in Ann Arbor, MI, We are on the Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration is exactly that, a commemoration of a half-century of magical music making.