Art "Turk" Brown and Congo Square

Spirits: Then & Now

by John Paul

18 November 2015

cover art

Art “Turk” Brown and Congo Square

Spirits: Then & Now

(T n’ T Music)
US: 22 Jul 2015
UK: 22 Jul 2015

Recorded live in Chicago, Art “Turk” Brown and Congo Square’s Spirits: Then & Now offers yet another glimpse into the city’s highly acclaimed AACM collective. Those familiar with the scores of AACM-related recordings will know what to expect from this release. Over Burton’s frantic conga drumming, assorted horns bleat and blare, the music often teetering precariously on the edge of falling apart. It’s a thrilling, if somewhat harrowing, listen that, given the highly rhythmic nature of the album, makes it damn near impossible not to move.

And while the first two tracks, recorded in 1983 and taken from a live radio broadcast, offer the frenetic sound and feel for which the collective has largely become known, the remaining six tracks feature a more nuanced, contemplative approach. Recorded in the studio and featuring vocals on a handful of tracks, these performances tend to lack the immediacy of the live recordings. That said, their readings of “Afro Blue”, complete with an extended solo passage, and “A Love Supreme” are delivered with a certain sense of loving reverence for the tradition of the form. Don’t look for anything new, but appreciate their ability to channel the past and continue the rich tradition of the AACM.

Spirits: Then & Now


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