Black Artist Group
For Peace and Liberty
In Paris, Dec 1972
Incl. 8-page booklet
Pre-Order: Available on / around Sep 20th 2024
Incl. 20-page booklet
Pre-Order: Available on / around Sep 20th 2024
Incl. VAT plus shipping / Orders from outside the EU are exempt from VAT
1Part 1 3:35
2Part 2 7:04
3Part 3 7:06
4Part 4 4:57
5Part 5 4:46
6Part 6 8:33

Wewantsounds is delighted to announce the release of BAG's first album since 1973, "For Peace and Liberty", recorded in Paris in Dec. 1972 when the musicians had recently arrived from St Louis. BAG only released one album during their existence. This long-lost performance, recorded at Maison de l'ORTF in optimal conditions just a few months previously, was thought lost until recently unearthed from the vaults of INA (Institut National de l’Audiovisuel). Here the group unleashes an incandescent 35-minute set mixing free improvisation and spiritual jazz with funk grooves. Released in partnership with the band and INA, the album features sound remastered from the original tapes, plus a 20-page booklet featuring words by Oliver Lake, Joseph Bowie and Baikida Carroll plus Bobo Shaw's and Floyd LeFlore's daughters as well as extensive liner notes by BAG scholar Benjamin Looker and previously unseen photos by cult French photographer Philippe Gras.

The Black Artist Group (BAG) was founded in St Louis, USA, in 1968 to promote local artists from the burgeoning Black Arts movement, including musicians, playwrights, dancers and poets. The BAG quintet heard here pulled together key musicians from the larger organisation, including Oliver Lake on sax, Baikida Carroll and Floyd LeFlore on trumpet, Joseph Bowie on trombone and Charles 'Bobo' Shaw on drums. The musicians emerged from the organisation to become a vital force within the late ‘60s free jazz revolution. Modelled on the AACM and the Art Ensemble of Chicago with whom they had close ties, this subset of BAG musicians followed in the footsteps of their Chicago colleagues, relocating to Paris in the early ‘70s on the recommendation of Lester Bowie, Joseph's older brother.

Arriving in the French capital in Oct 1972 the group made an instant impact on its underground music scene. In December of that year, Andre Francis, ORTF's jazz supremo invited them onto his "Jazz sur Scene" radio show, which showcased four groups live over two hours. Arriving onto the stage of the prestigious Studio 104 auditorium of the Maison de la Radio, the group delivered a jaw-dropping 35-minute set that left the audience mesmerised. The performance kicks off with the Senegalese Welcome Rhythm and a percussion intro and then turns into a heavy funk rhythm set by Bobo Shaw before the group moves onto more spiritual and serene soundscapes. They then launch into more euphoric free improvisation which turns into a joyful march and then finish with another ecstatic funk rhythm before the audience explodes in rapturous applause.

This BAG performance is miraculous both in terms of sound quality - having been taped with Radio France's state-of-the-art audio equipment – and of pure musical quality. Radically different from their "Aries 1973" LP, it shows the group's versatility. As BAG expert Benjamin Looker, author of the book "Point from Which Creation Begins - The Black Artist Group of St. Louis" highlights in his liner notes: "Distinguishing this album from “In Paris” is the central, unifying role played by Shaw, who toggles between free-form percussive colorations and a series of deep, mesmerizing funk-oriented grooves."

The release of "For Peace and Liberty" is all the more extraordinary given that the group's legacy consists of just one single privately pressed album, “Aries 1973”, a recording which has since gained cult status (Thurston Moore included the album in his Grand Royal "Top Ten From The Free Jazz Underground" list in 1995). In fact, the tapes were gathering dust at INA and were previously thought lost, mislabelled on the INA database. Only thanks to a chance listening of another concert where the BAG live set was buried within was the recording unearthed making this historic release possible fifty years on.

The album, issued in collaboration with the group, is presented here as a limited edition boasting a twenty-page booklet featuring texts by all the musicians who reminisce on this unique concert, a 2600-word essay by Benjamin Looker plus previously unseen photos by French photographer Philippe Gras. The release counts as an invaluable document, shedding fresh light on one of the most fascinating groups in modern jazz history.