Originally a trio, with Anthony Braxton
on E-flat saxophones and clarinets, Leo Smith
on trumpet, and Leroy Jenkins
on violin; all three musicians also played "little instruments" - percussion, toys, assorted noise-makers (e.g. a
) - après the Art Ensemble of Chicago
, as a means of varying the
musical texture and density. They recorded Braxton's debut Three
Compositions of New Jazz
(1968), and, along with several of their peers, unable to find much work in the States, moved to Paris
for awhile. While exiled, they added a drummer, Steve McCall.
Their final recordings were done in Paris, but there are also live recordings of a post-exile Manhattan concert (the one where Ornette Coleman, patron saint and fan, showed up wearing a hard hat). The quartet was augmented with AACM co-founder Muhal Richard Abrams on piano, and a bassist, a far cry from CCC's "no rhythm section" origins, but still unconventional music. Then the group split up, Braxton to Circle with Chick Corea, Jenkins to the Revolutionary Ensemble, Smith to his own solo projects; McCall would later co-found another trio, Air.