The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Nice Guys (1978)

Nice Guys

Track list:

01. Ja
02. Nice Guys
03. Folkus
04. 597-59
05. Cyp
06. Dreaming Of The Master


Lester Bowie – trumpet, celeste, bass drum
Malachi Favors Maghostut – bass, percussion instruments, melodica
Joseph Jarman – saxophones, clarinets, percussion instruments, vocal
Roscoe Mitchell – saxophones, clarinets, flute, percussion instruments
Don Moye – drums, percussion, vocal

Recorded: at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg; May 1978
Released: 1979
Label: ECM

Producer: Manfred Eicher
Engineer: Martin Wieland

Photography: Dani Liehard, Roberto Masoti, Isio Saba
Design: Barbara Wojirsch

Nice Guys was the first Art Ensemble of Chicago album released after a five-year recording hiatus and the group’s first for the ECM label.

During those five years, the Art Ensemble toured Europe and continued to expand its compositional, improvisational, and theatrical jazz fundamentals, captured abundantly on Nice Guys.

Broken up into six pieces, two each from Roscoe Mitchell and Joseph Jarman and one each from Lester Bowie and Don Moye, the album reveals how the AEC managed to turn individual compositions into a fully realized, surprisingly accessible, avant-garde group collective.

Nice Guys maintains its edge while incorporating reggae, New Orleans marches, and a wide use of space complemented by “little instruments” (car horn, whistles, etc.).

The strongest portion of the disc is the finale “Dreaming of the Master,” dedicated to Miles Davis and sounding not unlike Davis’ mid-’60s quintet — while maintaining the AEC edge.
~Al Campbell[allmusic]