Album Remarks & Appraisals:
2004 album from one of the most influential avant-garde jazz ensembles of the 1970s & 80s. Pi Recordings.
"If you want a very accessible introduction to the music of Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sirius Calling is a great place to start. If you are a long time follower, it won't disappoint. The fourteen songs presented here are short in length, half clocking in at less then four minutes. Enough music to fill the 65 minute session, but nothing to try the patience of those seeking entry into the creative world of AEC.
With the passing of Lester Bowie , the retirement (then un-retirement) of Joseph Jarman, and the death of bassist Malachi Favors Maghostut, the future of AEC is anything but certain. This session was recorded on the heels of the 2003 critical favorites The Meeting (Pi) and Tribute To Lester (ECM). Sadly, after this recording Favors left this planet. The band has begun including trumpeter Corey Wilkes and Jaribu Shahid on bass to supplement its lineup.
On this session the quartet of Favors, Mitchell, Jarman, and Moye delivers the goods. One special feature of this disc is the outstanding recording quality. Every gesture on every instrument, including gongs, bells, whistles and voice, is placed accurately in this mix, and thus around your listening ears. Whether it is the bop-like "Till Autumn" or the free jazz of the title track, these veterans keep their creative principles flowing.
Especially noteworthy when you are listening to any AEC disc is their mastery of free chamber jazz work. It seems that the quieter they get on tracks like "Come On Y'all" and "He Took A Cab To Neptune," the closer you are compelled to listen. Perhaps it is because of Malachi Favors' passing, but one certainly ponders each vibrating note he sends forth. This is a nice tribute to his music." -AllAboutJazz
The Wire (p.53) - "The lightness of touch is evident throughout SIRIUS CALLING....Their interplay and improvising sound remarkably fresh. There are intense moments..."
JazzTimes (pp.102-103) - "Moye's finely shaded use of cymbals evokes light, and his subtle shifting of the beat, lightness. Indeed, the AEC's group sound is luminous."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.97) - 4 stars out of 5 - "Each track is built on the same organic, semi-improvised bedrock provided by Favor's instinctive bass playing and a restrained, in places sotto voce, percussive propulsion from Don Moye."
Personnel: Famoudou Don Moye (whistling, whistle, drums, congas, bongos, percussion, bells, gong, chimes); Joseph Jarman (flute, bass flute, wooden flute, whistle, clarinet, sopranino clarinet, reeds, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, vibraphone, drum, percussion, bells, gong); Roscoe Mitchell (flute, piccolo, recorder, bass recorder, reeds, sopranino saxophone, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, bass saxophone, percussion); Malachi Favors Maghostus (bass guitar, percussion).
Audio Mixers: Buzz Kemper; Steve Gotcher.
Liner Note Authors: Roscoe Mitchell; Joseph Jarman; Famoudou Don Moye.
Recording information: Audio for the Arts, Madison, WI (04/04/2003-04/06/2003).
Editors: Buzz Kemper; Steve Gotcher.
Photographers: Dominik Huber; Joseph Blough.
Legendary free-jazz group Art Ensemble of Chicago was dealt a major blow when trumpeter Lester Bowie died in 1999, but the soldiered on without him surprisingly well. However, further tragedy befell the Ensemble when founding bassist Malachi Favors passed away in January of 2004, shortly after the completion of SIRIUS CALLING. In the booklet, the surviving members note the after-life significance of Sirius in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and, in retrospect, there is a bit of an elegiac feel to much of the album.
As ever, the group skillfully avoids the tropes of so much free jazz by favoring space and contemplation over chaos and dischord. The contemplative feel summoned by multi-reed players Joseph Jarman and Roscoe Mitchell is perfectly complemented by the flowing, organic rhythms of drummer Don Moye and the late Favors. The penultimate track, the wistful "Voyage," is potentially suggestive of a journey beyond the mortal coil, but the percussion-heavy closing tune, "The Council," indicates the undercurrents of life that continue through every soul's passing.