What better way to start the day than with the Art Ensemble Of Chicago's Fanfare For The Warriors? Sad to say, though, the day started very badly...a crisis, no less. Walking back from the shop I suddenly thought of the croissant in the bag and how...yes...oh my god...it had been flattened by a bottle of white vinegar and a litre of milk...terrible...it had been so puffed up and tasty-looking when purchased and that, surely, is part of their appeal...biting into all that oven-baked, light, fluffy crispness. Bollocks. It's nothing to get down about, I told myself...consider yourself lucky because in Aleppo they'd love flattened croissant to be a major concern....
So I'm chewing croissant washed down with a strong coffee whilst half-listening to the Art Ensemble's Tnoona (track 6) - living the dream! A dream, of sorts. Yes, well, some folk are cruising the coast of Southern France on their boats and others are in training for a top Italian football team...they're young, handsome (Italian footballers are the most handsome...I often tell LJ how much I fancy one when watching international football) rich and fit - what more could I want from life?!
Shut up fool and be content with who and what you are.
I am, really, which is some kind of miracle.
I replay Tnoona a couple of times and marvel, not least at the opening strum of bass string, tinkle of piano keys (right hand, whilst the left creates a deep ambient mood) and someone blows through a mouthpiece, the breath akin to stalker horror score effects...quite brilliant. I'm reminded to listen more often, not only to the Art Ensemble but other CDs and albums. You know how it is, you forget how amazing an album is because it sits in the collection, neglected, for months, perhaps years. You forget so much. Perhaps that's the way it should be...only room for so much in this noodle.
I remembered the Art Ensemble this morning since I'm going to see what remains of them at Cafe Oto in Feb next year. Yes, I made up my mind and was foolish to have doubts. Fanfare For The Warriors may be one of my favourite AEOC albums...it so sums up what they're about, containg as it does joyous jumps across so many genres, from rock 'n' roll to swing, ambient atmospherics, jaunty song, poetry and of course free-range blowing.
'We dearly give this music
to the brothers
all over the planet
who have fought
for the freedom
of our people
who have given their lives
that Black men women and children
may grow into a world
free for All of us.'
(from the sleeve notes)
That was 1973. Was it too optimistic? Perhaps, but surely optimism in needed to overcome every obstacle in 'the struggle'. The opposite is too tempting...the descent into despair, the violent, thug life response to ongoing prejudice and economic deprivation. Easy for me, a white English man with a job, to say. Yet despair becomes a viable option for most of us if we look at society, never mind the worldwide horrors. If we look at what we think is wrong with society, that is...and there's plenty that's wrong in London, let alone the country. Don't worry, I won't list everything.
Thank Charlie Parker for Great Black Music. I mean, not literally, although he was responsible for so much that came after him. I mean, instead of 'god', of course. Thank CP for the AEOC (they would acknowledge the debt, I'm sure). It's their music, right now, which enriches this experience called 'living'. In a less significant way, so did that croissant, which still tasted good, so ears and stomach satisfied, I bid you farewell. TTFN