by Mitch Myers
In the 30-plus-year existence of Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, this unique coalition has remained a haven for groundbreaking free jazz, as well as a foundation of brotherhood and patriarchal spirituality. While groups like the Art Ensemble of Chicago and individuals like Kahil El' Zabar have provided guidance and inspirational music in that time, the AACM has only just begun to receive its due respect.
The band called Bright Moments brings together a crew of AACM stalwarts for another notable summit of what is often referred to as "Great Black Music." On Return of the Lost Tribe, leader-percussionist Kahil El' Zabar has done a wondrous job enlisting an all-star group to articulate his ambitious vision. Along with Art Ensemble bassist Malachi Favors, saxophonists Joseph Jarman and KalaparushaMaurice McIntyre, and pianist Steve Colson, El' Zabar has constructed an improvisational powerhouse that maintains a strong sense of history without sacrificing its contemporary edge. Although McIntyre has only recently returned from an incredibly long recording hiatus, his tenor saxophone stylings are as probing and incisive here as they were in the late '60s. Also returning to the fold in a big way is former Art Ensemble altoist-flutist Joseph Jarman. Jarman's lucid brand of instrumental storytelling alongside McIntyre's biting tenor gives this quintet a particularly formidable front line. Add to this Steve Colson's straightforward piano skills, plus the intrinsically propulsive rhythm section of Malachi Favors and Kahil El' Zabar, and voila! You have the ultimate freebop band for the new millennium. Honest.