Saturday, September 14, 2013

JOSEPH JARMAN (b. September 14, 1937): Innovative Multi-instrumentalist, Composer, and Charter Member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago

(b. September 14, 1937)


"Great black music: Ancient to the future"

Filmed at the Berlin Jazzfest - October 31, 1991

The personnel of the Art Ensemble of Chicago:

Lester Bowie, trumpet
Joseph Jarman, reeds
Roscoe Mitchell, reeds
Malachi Favors Maghostut, bass
Famoudou Don Moye, drums

Their motto: Great black music:  Ancient to the future

Joseph Jarman's solo begins at 4:49 after Roscoe Mitchell's.

The band first recorded together in 1966. In 1967 Joseph Jarman joined the group.

In 1969, when the group toured Europe they used more than 500 instruments.

See more at:

Born: 14-September1937
Birthplace: Pine Bluff, AR

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: Black
Occupation: Musician
Nationality: United States
Executive summary:  Art Ensemble of Chicago multi-intrumentalist and composer

After leaving the army, in which he had been performing in bands on saxophone and clarinet, Joseph Jarman moved to Chicago in time to participate in the creative movement taking root in the early 1960s. He joined both the incipient Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and The Experimental Band, working for the first time alongside two musicians who would become his longstanding bandmades: Roscoe Mitchell and Malachi Favors. In 1969 the three -- joined by fellow AACM member Lester Bowie -- would form the Art Ensemble of Chicago, a band that would help define the free jazz movement. With the Ensemble, Jarman recorded in excess of 50 albums and toured the world extensively before retiring from the group in 1993.

Amongst his many non-AEOC projects, Joseph Jarman headed his own group in the late sixties, recorded numerous solo and collaborative albums, contributed to theatre productions, and has had several volumes of his poetry published. He is credited as being one of the first musicians to perform entirely solo pieces on the saxophone.

Art Ensemble of Chicago
The Experimental Band

Joseph Jarman-- Tenor saxophone
Marilyn Crispell --Piano

"Dear Lord" (Composition by John Coltrane)

Joseph Jarman and Marilyn Crispell: 

Connecting Spirits
Recorded January 12, 1996:


Egwu-Anwu (Sun Song) is an out-of-print live recording by Joseph Jarman and Famoudou Don Moye. The recording is of a live performance recorded in Woodstock, NY, which was released by India Navigation in January of 1978.

Joseph Jarman - tenor and alto sax, sopranino, flutes, bass clarinet, conch, vibraphone

Famoudou Don Moye - drums and other percussion, bailophone, conch, whistles, horns, marimba.

Joseph Jarman / Famoudou Don Moye - nanke ala ikpa-azu - ohnedaru
Joseph Jarman and Anthony Braxton (saxophones)

Together Again Dawn Dance Morning (including Circles)
Jarman and Braxton (1974):


Jarman and Braxton ~ Together Alone, Dawn Dance Morning (including Circles)

"Non-Cognitive Aspects of the City"
(Poem, recitation, and composition by Joseph Jarman)

Joseph Jarman--recitation, alto sax
Christopher Gaddy-- piano
Charles Clark-- bass
Thurman Barker-- drums

Recorded October 20th 1966, Chicago Sound Studios.

'Song For', released on Delmark in 1967, is one of the earliest documents of the Chicago-based Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and was pianist Christopher Gaddy's only recording. Both he and bassist Charles Clark would die at just 24 years of age in 1968 and 1969 respectively: Gaddy of internal disorders sustained during US Army service, Clark (who was the youngest member of the AACM) of a cerebral hemorrhage. Jarman, Barker (and the other musicians on the date, Fred Anderson and Steve McCall), meanwhile, would go on to have long careers in experimental jazz.

Jarman's poem 'Non-Cognitive Aspects of the City' (subsequently the title of a 21st-century Art Ensemble of Chicago album, and the subject of a setting by Roscoe Mitchell for orchestra and baritone singer) is much more than just the 'Black Dada Nihilismus' rip-off one reviewer dismissed it as being. Jarman's delivery is, like Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka's, deceptively quiet, almost menacing; but, whereas Baraka's poem (and its companion piece, 'Black Art') was a deliberately inflammatory, confrontational work, Jarman's is more reflective, concerned, like Jones, with European modernism ("dada/new word out of the twenties of chaos") but, though acutely aware of racial concerns ("returned in the suntan jar" suggesting, perhaps, the white man's desire for the 'exotic' trappings of blackness whilst remaining truly white - 'everything but the burden'), less tied to nationalistic cries for action ("exit the tenderness for power/ black or white"). Likewise, while some might dismiss this as 'beat poetry', based on a superficial understanding of its technical workings and general 'ambiance', in fact, the connection between music and words is actually, it could be argued, more fundamental than in the somewhat tentative experiments of Jack Kerouac or Kenneth Patchen from the previous decade.

As Sean Bonney puts it an essay named after Jarman's poem and published in the online poetics journal Pores: "Even with a good poet such as Kerouac, whose writing was exemplary in finding a literary mirror of what music can do, the music is reduced to an accompaniment, and while supposedly subservient to the words, actually carries them and, essentially, does their work. An exploitative relationship that destroys the music's own systems of thought, and where the analogies with capitalist division of labour are absolutely clear. [However], in the most militant periods of the 1960s, poetry began to appear with more and more frequency on radical jazz records, and managed to escape the problems of jazz-poetry we mentioned above. The poems, in recordings such as Joseph Jarman's "Non-Cognitive Aspects of the City", in Barbara Simmons' work with Jackie McLean, and in Baraka's own work with The New York Art Quartet, Sunny Murray and Sun Ra, were able to be incorporated into the sonic field in such a way that they became one equal element in the collective of voices that made up the piece. The music was no longer there as an accompaniment that allowed the poem to sound greater than it actually was, but would respond to the words only inasmuch as the poem would respond to the music. The poem would push the music into clear speech, and the music in its turn would take that speech into places that it wouldn't ordinarily be able to get to, thus refusing the too easy fixion of meaning that a less equal partnership of music and words would be unable to get beyond."
Photograph of Joseph Jarman (c) Amir Bey, 2009

This was one of the early classics of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians). Alto saxophonist Joseph Jarman, who would become a permanent member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago shortly after this recording, is heard in a sextet with trumpeter William Brimfield, the legendary tenor Fred Anderson, pianist Christopher Gaddy, bassist Charles Clark, and Steve McCall on drums.

Recorded at Sound Studios in 1966

Album: SONG FOR (Delmark records)

Joseph Jarman
"As If It Were the Seasons"
Recorded in 1968
Delmark Records

Review by Scott Yanow

This set is one of the legendary early AACM releases. Joseph Jarman (heard on alto, bassoon and soprano in addition to fife and recorder) is featured shortly before he became a member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Some of his sidemen would become well-known (pianist Richard Abrams, tenors Fred Anderson and John Stubblefield), while others remained obscure or short-lived (bassist Charles Clark, drummer Thurman Barker, flutist Joel Brandon, trumpeter John Jackson and trombonist Lester Lashley). The two lengthy group improvisations (Sherri Scott adds her voice to "Song for Christopher") contrast sound and silence, noise with more conventional sounds, "little instruments" with powerful saxophones. Certainly not for everyone's taste, the truly open-eared will find the innovative results quite intriguing.

Joseph Jarman is a cofounder of Chicago's famed AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) founded in 1965 and a member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago from 1969 to 1993. He has performed, toured and recorded in all parts of the Western world as well as in Japan and Eastern Europe. In 2001 he was invited by the Mayor of Chicago as an honored guest composer and performer, and to the Dogen Country in Mali by invitation of the French Consulate for a special project of music and art with Dogen artists and Western Artists (Leroy Jenkins, Thomas Buckner, and Alain Kirili).

Best known as a saxophonist, Mr. Jarman plays all the woodwinds and many percussion instruments, including vibes, marimba, balophone, and an array of bells, gongs and little instruments. Mr. Jarman has also worked extensively in Music/theater and is largely responsible for its development as a means of expression in new music. As a writer and poet, Joseph Jarman has published in Black Scholar, Dada Artist, New World and other books and magazines. He has also written the liner notes for many Art Ensemble of Chicago recordings.

Mr. Jarman studied music at the Chicago Conservatory of Music and Chicago Teachers College. He has been awarded numerous fellowships and grants, including several NEA grants, New York State Council grants for composition. In 1984 he received an interacts grant with Jessica Hagdorn, Blondell Cummings and John Woo for The Art of War. He also had a grant in 1999 from the British Arts Council. Mr. Jarman has received numerous first place awards from Downbeat Critics Polls. He is a member of the National Jazz Educators, Composers Forum, and Jazz Institute of Chicago (Life member). Mr. Jarman is an honorary lifetime member of the Chicago Jazz Society and is an honorary citizen of the city of Atlanta, GA and Madison, Wisconsin.

In 1990 Mr. Jarman was ordained a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Priest and also holds the rank of Godan (5th degree) black belt in the martial art of Aikido. He now directs the Jikishinkan Aikido Dojo and Brooklyn Buddhist Association. Mr. Jarman's most recent recordings include Pachinko Dream track 10 on Music @ Arts Records; Return of the Lost Tribe - Delmark Records; Out of the Mist - Ocean records; and Lifetime Visions for the Magnificent Human - Bopbuda Music

 Joseph Jarman (saxophone) & WORKS:

(Michel Gentile - flute, Daniel Kelly - piano, Rob Garcia - drums)

Performing at Brooklyn Jazz Wide Open on December 15, 2010.

Brooklyn Jazz Wide Open is a concert series presented by Connection Works

Joseph Jarman and WORKS at Brooklyn Jazz Wide Open - "Hail We Now Sing Joy"