Grooves & Samples #30: The Revolutionary Ensemble – Chicago (1977)
Grooves & Samples is a weekly dive into old dusty crates of jazz, funk, soul and beyond.
Live recordings are an intriguing way to experience music of years past. Without the refined engineering of a studio recording, live concerts display the full artistry and emotion of the musicians on stage for all to hear. This week we feature an incredible live performance from avant garde jazz outfit The Revolutionary Ensemble recorded in 1977 at Moosham Castle in Austria.
In jazz music, the violin is seldom the leading instrument, typically it merely plays a supporting role, or more often than not is absent entirely. However, Chicago’s Revolutionary Ensemble was different. The trio Led by Leroy Jenkins, a superb violinist supported by bassist Sirone (Norris Jones) and drummer Jerome Cooper. They were unique in their time for their sound and experimentation in the realm of free jazz. Through ’71 to ’77 the ensemble recorded 5 albums, culminating in the live performance at Moosham Castle.
What makes this recording even more interesting is the setting of the concert. Austria’s Moosham Castle has a terrible and violent history and is known as a cursed place. Apparently it is even haunted, according to the TV show Ghost Hunters International and indeed many other stories from locals and visitors. Also known as Witches Castle, it was the site of the bloodiest witch trials in Austria. Women accused of witchcraft were tortured and executed throughout the castle and dungeons and hundreds of severed heads once adorned the castle walls. Another tale claims Moosham was also the lair of a werewolf after many mutilated cattle and deer were found. Two men were subsequently tortured brutally and confessed in the dark dungeons of Moosham.
So on this record, you have the haunting music from The Revolutionary Ensemble as well as the haunted setting of Moosham Castle. Although the whole recording is superb, one stand out is “Chicago” an eerie spastic composition that strikes away flesh and hits you right in your heart and soul.