Past Performing Arts | Music

Art Ensemble of Chicago

Presented by The Ohio State University Office of Academic Affairs and the Wexner Center for the Arts


Six jazz musicians perform onstage, playing upright bass, drums, and the trumpet. Roscoe Mitchell is seated center stage, and Don Moye plays drums.

Don’t miss this performance by the highly influential and groundbreaking avant-garde jazz group, a collaborator of the filmmaker Sarah Maldoror.

The Art Ensemble of Chicago—formed in 1965 by musicians and composers Lester Bowie, Joseph Jarman, Malachi Favors Maghostut, Roscoe Mitchell, and Famoudou Don Moye—is celebrated for integrating music styles that span the history of jazz and multi-instrumental group improvisations. While the group’s membership has changed several times over the past 54 years, its focus on combining jazz, European art music, and African folk styles has been a constant. Their creative intent, expressed by the slogans “Great Black Music” and “Ancient to the Future” has also remained the same. 
Throughout decades of performances, the ensemble has also released over 70 recordings of live shows and studio sessions, videos, and DVDs. The members have explored the use of unique sounds and percussion, pairing them with their principal instruments. 
During this live performance, you’ll have the opportunity to take in the group’s creative pairing of original compositions with elaborate costumes, poetry, dance, and more. (75 mins.)

The Art Ensemble scored Sarah Maldoror's first film, Monangambeee; she approached them after hearing them play in Paris. According to the UCLA Library Film & Television Archive, “The film’s anti-colonialist spirit inspired the avant-garde jazz group…to offer their arresting score free of charge.” Learn more about the film and Maldoror's long and influential career in the exhibition Sarah Maldoror: Tricontinental Cinema, on view at the Wexner Center through April 28.

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"A true collective, the Art Ensemble gave ample room to the playing and composing abilities of each member while retaining a unique, instantly identifiable sound that heavily influenced what followed in their wake."
Six jazz musicians perform onstage, playing upright bass, drums, and the trumpet. Roscoe Mitchell is seated center stage, and Don Moye plays drums.

Art Ensemble of Chicago, photo: Ben Houdijk.

Roscoe Mitchell stands center stage, playing the saxophone. He and his bandmate, who is playing trumpet in the background, are lit with blue light.

Roscoe Mitchell (left) plays with the Art Ensemble of Chicago, photo: Ben Houdijk.

A view of the Art Ensemble of Chicago performing, taken from stage left. Roscoe Mitchell stands center stage.

Art Ensemble of Chicago, photo: Ben Houdijk.

More about the artists

Art Ensemble of Chicago chevron-down chevron-up

The Art Ensemble of Chicago evolved from founder Roscoe Mitchell's musical vision, explorations, and adventurous collaborations in Chicago in the early and mid 1960s. Now in its sixth decade, Mitchell and cofounder Famoudou Don Moye are joined by numerous guest artists for their live performances of original compositions written by all the members. Read more about the group.

​Roscoe Mitchell: saxophones  
​Famoudou Don Moye: drums, congas, and percussion  
​Moor Mother: spoken word, electronics  
​yuniya edi kwon: violin  
​Junius Paul: acoustic bass, electric bass  
​Simon Sieger: piano, trombone

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Sarah Maldoror: Tricontinental Cinema.

Doris Duke Foundation 

Ohio Department of Development 
Greater Columbus Arts Council 
The Wexner Family 
Institute of Museum and Library Services 
Ohio Arts Council, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts  
Ohio State’s Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme 
The Columbus Foundation 
Nationwide Foundation 
Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease

Mike and Paige Crane 
Axium Packaging 
Nancy Kramer 
Ohio State Energy Partners 
Ohio History Fund/Ohio History Connection 
Larry and Donna James 
Bruce and Joy Soll 
Rebecca Perry Damsen and Ben Towle 
Jones Day 
Alex and Renée Shumate

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Art Ensemble of Chicago