Last week's performance by the Art Ensemble of Chicago--the best-known group to come out of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians--was a rarity not just because the group plays out less and less frequently, but because the Art Ensemble members are the only first-generation AACM musicians who still work together regularly. Muhal Richard Abrams, Henry Threadgill, Anthony Braxton, and others meet up for the sporadic special-occasion concert, like Abrams's Experimental Band reunion at Jazz Fest a few years ago, but for the most part they've gone their separate ways. This weekend, the world premiere of a quintet called Bright Moments not only represents a brand-new grouping of AACM vets, but a commingling of generations. Percussionist and leader Kahil El'Zabar and pianist Adegoke Steve Colson emerged from the AACM several years after the organization had made its initial impact, and El'Zabar has been an important force in its continued vitality, both as president and as the founder of groups like the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble and the Ritual Trio. Bright Moments' bassist, Malachi Favors, remains a member of the Art Ensemble, but the phenomenal reedist Joseph Jarman left that group several years ago. His most recent Chicago appearances suggest that while some of the more acerbic elements of his playing have grown subdued over the years, his beautiful fluidity and soulfulness have only increased. But the real wild card of Bright Moments is reedist Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, a brilliant musician who left town in 1970 and has only recently emerged from the shadows of New York's dog-eat-dog jazz community--first to play in the subways and more recently to take the stage at the Knitting Factory. Though this is his first performance in Chicago in more than 15 years, it's a relatively safe bet that these five will strike a fine balance between meditative beauty and jarring, soul-searching extroversion. Their set is part of the two-day Underground Fest, a revival of El'Zabar's well-received annual festival of the 1980s. Bright Moments play Saturday, as do Samana and the Ari Brown Quartet; Friday's program includes the Ritual Trio with trumpeter Lester Bowie, Atu Harold Murray and the Original Sundrummer, and New Horizons Ensemble. Both shows start at 8 PM, Angeline Oremus Theater, NTU Performing Arts Gallery, 1716 S. Michigan; 773-846-1001. Peter Margasak
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Kalaparusha Maurice McINtyre photo by H. Nolan; Kahil El'Zabar photo by Nathan Mandell/ Joseph Jarman photo uncredited.