Nearly four years ago, Lester Bowie blew his last blat and took with him a sensibility that is as much missed as his trumpet playing. With no worthy heir to his white lab coat, jazz suffered a profound loss in theatrical wit, surgical cuts, massed brasses, pangeneric repertory, and nostalgic caprice. The Art Ensemble of Chicago, however, refused to lay down its little instruments, appearing periodically as a trio and, with the return this year of founding member Joseph Jarman, a quartet. Ending the post-Lester recording drought, two new CDs, one by each configuration, have now shown up at the same time. True believers will want both; those, like me, with limited patience for plunking and grinding percussion melees, will rejoice without cavil at the... More >>>