Art Ensemble of Chicago

50th Anniversary

An illustration of Art Ensemble of Chicago wearing facepaint and traditional masks.

The champions of what they called the ‘Great Black Music’ celebrate their 50th Anniversary with special guests in a tribute to co-founders Lester Bowie, Joseph Jarman and Malachi Favors Maghostut.

Known for their live collaborative performances – visual, auditory and sensual spectacles with elaborate costumes, face paint, poetry, dance and more, the group pioneered free jazz in America and further afield since their formation in 1969. The ensemble evolved from founder Roscoe Mitchell's musical vision of adventurous collaborations, and integrated musical styles spanning the history of jazz and improvisation.
Still with Mitchell at the helm, the group is joined tonight by a number of special guest soloists, including Junius Paul and Baba Sissoko. Together, the eighteen-strong ensemble remember their founding members no longer with us as they look back on 50 years redefining improvisation.

They have just released We are on the Edge on Pi Records and Erased Tapes, after a studio recording hiatus of fifteen years.  

This concert will start at the advertised start time and running times will be confirmed closer to the event

Produced by the Barbican in association with EFG London Jazz Festival

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Listen: The Art Ensemble Of Chicago 50th Anniversary Special

Each month London label Erased Tapes will play a 2-hour set of specially selected tunes from their catalogue on wax as well as other favourites on NTS Radio.

Take a listen to this month's set The Art Ensemble Of Chicago 50th Anniversary Special

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Watch: Art Ensemble of Chicago live at Berlin Jazz Fest 1991

Art Ensemble of Chicago, were an American jazz group that embraced a diversity of African and African American styles and sources in their creation of what they preferred to call “Great Black Music.” 

photo of shabaka hutchings

Barbican Sessions: Shabaka Hutchings

For our latest Barbican Session, one of the central figures of the London jazz scene, Shabaka Hutchings performs an improvised piece on bass clarinet.

a great photo of kamasi washington playing jazz

Listen: Jazz on Spotify

Follow our regularly updated Jazz playlist for a sample of the music you'll hear across our programme. 

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