Natural & Spiritual
01. The Procession 3:29
02. Natural And The Spiritual (Working On The Buildings) 8:35
03. Peace Be Unto You 10:33
04. Natural And The Spiritual 7:08
05. Black Man Tripover / Womens Takeover 4:00
06. If' Fin You No's De Way-Sho Us 10:53
07. Keep on keepin on 5:18
08. Gone 0:38
Brother Malachi Favors Magoustous: Acoustic Bass
Recorded on April 23, 1977, live at The University of Chicago. Bass is unamplified.
Born 22 August 1927, Chicago, Illinois, USA, d. 30 January 2004, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Favors came from a religious family (his father preached as a pastor) who disapproved of secular music. He took up the bass at the age of 15, initially inspired by Wilbur Ware. He started playing professionally when he left school, accompanying Freddie Hubbard and Dizzy Gillespie. Moving to Chicago, he recorded with Andrew Hill in 1955 and in 1961 he played with Muhal Richard Abrams in the Experimental Band, becoming a member of the AACM at its inception in 1965. He played in groups led by Roscoe Mitchell and Lester Bowie and in 1969 joined with them and Joseph Jarman to found the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, who triumphantly carried the banner of "Great Black Music: Ancient to the Future" into the 90s. Outside of the Art Ensemble, Favors recorded on Mitchell's and Bowie's own albums, as well as with fellow AACM member Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, drummer Sunny Murray and gospel group From The Root To The Source. Sightsong, an album of duos with Abrams, was released in 1976, and two years later the solo Natural And The Spiritual appeared on the Art Ensemble's own AECO label.
Favors, who took to appending Maghostut (in various spellings) to his name, typified the AACM's interest in mysticism and once gave his biography as "into being in this universe some 43,000 years ago. Moved around and then was ordered to this Planet Earth by the higher forces, Allah De Lawd Thank You Jesus Good God A Mighty, through the precious channels of Brother Isaac and Sister Maggie Mayfield Favors; of ten. Landed in Chicago by way of Lexington, Mississippi, for the purpose of serving my duty as a Music Messenger." Perhaps more plausibly he also claimed that his decision to play freely was a statement that cost him financial rewards. Favors was a foremost exponent of free jazz upright playing, and was also adept at the electric bass, the African balafon, the zither and banjo.
Pressed and circulated on the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s tiny eponymous imprint, Favor’s sole solo album from 1977 is a mixed medicine bag of aural liniments and nostrums. What it lacks in cohesion and polish, it more than compensates for in the amount of personal intimacy conveyed. Favors rarely had the room to exposit in isolation within the context of the AEC so the chance to hear him away from his colleagues carries even more worth. Like William Parker after him, Favor’s essays on peripheral instruments (hand drums, marimba, zither, whistles, what sounds like a ney) are of lesser appeal than his longhand manipulations on stout-stringed bass. The opening deep pizzicato of “The Procession,” dedicated to deceased drummer Phillip Wilson, wastes no time zeroing in on the kinship shared by Favor’s calloused fingers and their principal agent of expression. “Peace Be Unto You” is even better, an athletic ten plus minute workout speckled with the clink and rattle of bells and chimes hung from the bassist’s limbs. Superb arco work arrives in the album’s final pieces. Favors also employs vocals on occasion. In combination with lambent marimba on the first of two title tracks has voice creates a tone poem saturated with space and tonal color. Lyrics sung on “Womans Takeover” marry mildly misogyny to equal parts anger and humor. All of the pieces appear to have been taped in front of an audience as appreciative applause trail various tracks. What was it Lester Bowie used to say: Great Black Music- Ancient to the Future? The credo certainly holds here.
One of the most respectably talented bassists in free jazz, Favors is renowned mostly for his membership in the Art Ensemble of Chicago for nearly forty years. A powerful swinger and excellent soloist, Favors tended to subsume himself beneath his bandmates, occasionally writing or stepping to the fore.
Favors took up the bass at fifteen and studied with Wilbur Ware and Paul Chambers as a young man. His first recording was made with tenorman Paul Bascomb in 1953. As a member of pianist Andrew Hill's trio with drummer James Slaughter, Favors recorded his first full album, So In Love (1956, Warwick). Favors further explored bebop with Dizzy Gillespie and Freddie Hubbard before joining Muhal Richard Abrams' Experimental Band. There he met Roscoe Mitchell, and the two men began investigating the free jazz and hard bop that was coming out of New York City. In 1965 Mitchell developed his Art Ensemble, which became their principal gig for most of the next three decades. The band eventually became a quintet with Mitchell Favors, trumpeter Lester Bowie, saxophonist Joseph Jarman, and drummer Don Moye. Favors and Moye regularly donned tribal facepaint and African garb for the Art Ensemble's performances, enhancing the group's aura as a sort of black history repertory. Favors assumed the additional name "Maghostus" as another nod to his heritage, as did Moye with "Famoudou".
Favors recorded with most of the Art Ensemble's members in contexts outside of that band. His own solo bass recording, The Natural and the Spiritual (1977), was issued on the group's AECO imprint. Favors recorded in duo with Muhal Richard Abrams (Sightsong, 1975, Black Saint) and fellow bassist Tatsu Aoki (2x4, 1998, Southport), and worked with Charles Brackeen, Sunny Murray, Dewey Redman, Archie Shepp, Dennis Gonzalez, Yosuke Yamashita, and Alan Silva, among others. In recent years he was a member of Bright Moments, Kahil El'Zabar's Ritual Trio, and Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet. Favors died of stomach cancer, which he had kept concealed from his musical friends.