I thought I'd do a bit more of recycling from the now defunct C#9 blog. These posts were initially put in the comments section in response to Flux'us posting of the Black Arts Ensemble so I thought they deserve front-page status here.
Both ensembles were basically made up of a small core of musicians, centered around the drummer Charles "Bobo" Shaw. This was a St. Louis-based outfit which would invite guest musicians, including the Bowie (Lester, Joseph) brothers and Oliver Lake. They would later shift to New York where Shaw made more records under the "Human Arts Ensemble" umbrella and Joseph Bowie founded Defunkt, a well-known 80s jazz-funk band.
The HAE records were mostly side-long jams with collective improvisation from the regular band members and guests. As such, they drew upon the dixieland tradition rather than the standard one of serial improvisation with one soloist at a time.
These four sides have all their different characters. The two pieces on Under the Sun are obviously inspired by folk music of the Middle East and further beyond. The title piece on
Whisper of Dharma invokes the serenity of the Asian jungles with its assortment of small instruments and quiet moods, not unlike the early Art Ensemble of Chicago, another ensemble from another city , but with Lester Bowie as the human link. Some similarity may also be found with the early quartet pieces of Anthony Braxton. The other side of Whisper, on the other hand, expresses the hustle-bustle of the North American urban reality.
Under the Sun
side 1: A Lover's Desire
side 2: Hazrat, the Sufi
Whisper of Dharma
side 1: Whisper of Dharma
side 2: A World New
The cast of characters is a bit too long to reproduce here, but the full line-up can be found in the attached scans.
Both these records were initially privately released and fetch huge sums of money for original copies. These rips, however, are from the Arista Freedom rereleases from the mid-70s, but I dont think anyone will notice any difference, audio-wise.