Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Arts Ensemble of Chicago at Cabell Hall

The Arts Ensemble of Chicago played Old Cabell Hall at the University of Virginia many years ago. Malachi Favors, the bassist pictured here, passed away in 2004. I’ve seen many unusual acts at Cabell Hall. UVA’s music department has booked many great players over the years. Often the artists are also there to do hands on classes with the music students.
It was an impressive layout of instruments (see picture below) and tympani played a major part.

At times it was a wave or wall of sound, some of the loudest unamplified playing I think I’ve ever heard. Lester Bowie seemed to be taking a leading role on trumpet, front and center. Unlike the rest of the band he was dressed in a white lab coat, as though he had wandered over from the UVA Hospital. Malachi and the others were in what seemed like very non-traditional African inspired dress, although it tended to the avant guard also. One or two pieces in the concert were quite different, tonal, and melodious, with a quiet dynamic.
The only seats left when I got there were in the balcony, so I took some photos with a 35mm camera and mirror telephoto by using the wooden rail around the balcony as a tripod. It was transparency film, 400 ASA, but still not enough in the low light. The exposures were ¼ second. Malachi is a bit abstract, although one unmoving string on the bass seems in tight focus. I like it anyway in that it captures the energy he was applying to his playing.

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