1970: The Art Ensemble of Chicago (Feat. Fontella Bass) - Les Stances a Sophie

Les Stances a Sophie is a soundtrack album by free-form jazz legends The Art Ensemble of Chicago. The film itself was an obscure 1970 French New Wave comedy about a free-spirited woman who eventually breaks free from her boring businessman husband. At the end of the film, the woman sees the Art Ensemble of Chicago play and Roscoe Mitchell (saxophonist) tells her how white, male European’s sexual standards are “a drag.”

The only track with vocals, “Theme de Yoyo,” has become a cult classic and an interesting entry point into the prolific catalog of this highly talented free-form jazz collective. Years before its release, Fontella Bass had risen to stardom for her hit “Rescue Me.” She married the Art Ensemble’s trumpeter Lester Bowie, which led to her contributing piano runs and soaring vocals for the record.

The record also marks the addition of drummer Don Moye, who contributes some of the funkiest playing to ever come out of free-form jazz. The tight tambourine-friendly R&B grooves mesh with horn riffs to create a fusion that’s all too rare in experimental jazz records. Soul jazz. It’s no surprise that the label re-released the obscure LP a few years back.

Apparently the filmmaker Moshe Mizrahi commissioned the band to record the soundtrack only weeks before their visas expired. It’s probably a safe bet that if you enjoy these tracks, you’d enjoy the Art Ensemble of Chicago With Fontella Bass LP that was also recorded and released in 1970 in Paris (on the America label that also released Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus). It’s a more free-flowing affair, containing two 20-minute tracks, but the band experimenting with Bass’ gospel and R&B background is infectious. You’d be hard pressed to find a better match between soul and jazz in the early 70s.


There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

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