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Album Review

Art Ensemble of Chicago – “Coming Home Jamaica ” – [Atlantic (Jazz)]

Rococo   7/5/2005   CD, Jazz

Under a grant from the Odwalla juice company, the venerable Art Ensemble of Chicago was recently given an all-expense-paid trip to Jamaica and over two months of studio time to record this, their first studio album in six years. Odwalla’s generosity is our gain: COMING HOME JAMAICA is one of the finest jazz albums of the year and possibly of the Art Ensemble’s entire 30+ year career. Their motto, “great black music: ancient to the future,” continues to provide inspiration in this recording, which features elements of everything from blues, ragtime, and swing to African and Caribbean rhythms. The album’s tracks are more tightly structured than many previous Ensemble recordings, but the players’ outstanding solos and inventive use of percussion keep things interesting throughout.

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