Luther Thomas' Human Arts Ensemble

All right, imagine what it might have sounded like if James Brown and Miles Davis had gotten together around 1972, when Miles was at his free-form funkiest and the Soul Brother Number One was at his super baddest. OK, it might have sounded a little bit like this. Do I have your attention?

Truthfully, though, this stuff is looser and more collectively derived than anything either of those notoriously controlling musical geniuses probably would have produced together, probably closer to the communal spirit of the great Sly and the Family Stone than anything else.

The Human Arts Ensemble was a sprawling, amorphous entity that existed in St. Louis for the better part of the '70s. Emerging from the St. Louis-based Black Arts Group (BAG) of the '60s, the eclectic outfit sought to boldly explore the new directions of jazz, R&B, and soul, creating a massive, vibrant, electric sound which was equal parts fusion and funk. Though the Human Arts Ensemble launched the careers of trombonist Joseph Bowie, drummer Charles "Bobo" Shaw, and others, little remains of the Human Arts Ensemble itself; only a few early '70s albums, Under the Sun and Whisper of Dharma, remain in print.
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