On May 28, 1969, four American musicians — reed/wind players Roscoe Mitchell and Joseph Jarman, bassist Malachi Favors, and (accompanied by his wife, singer Fontella Bass) trumpeter Roscoe Mitchell — boarded the ocean liner S.S. United States, bound for Le Havre, France. After landing five days later, they moved on to Paris, where they got to work.
On August 22, 1970, in the waning days of their stay overseas, the group, with Bass on vocals, would record their second release for EMI’s Pathé Marconi: the movie soundtrack Les Stances à Sophie.
The record, an exciting, eminently listenable combination of soul, classical, and jazz strains that survives as the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s most stylistically diverse album, has long been admired by a devoted cult. Its durability is largely due to the popularity of its “hit”: Over the years, “Theme de Yoyo” has been covered repeatedly, essayed by acts as varied as German funk band the Boogoos (and the offshoot Deep Jazz, both featuring singer Julia Fehenbeger), British nu-jazz combo the Cinematic Orchestra, Polish jazz man Wojtek Mazolewski, Norwegian rockers Motorpsycho, French dance music artist Étienne Jaumet, and London-based remixer ™Shall I Bruk It.
More than half a century later, “Theme de Yoyo” and Les Stances à Sophie still bring it.
This new limited-edition LP reissue from play loud! productions is supplemented with new notes by U.S. music journalist Chris Morris.