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THE ENTOURAGE MUSIC AND THEATER ENSEMBLE

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock • United States


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The Entourage Music and Theater Ensemble biography
The Entourage Music and Theatre Ensemble were formed in Millbrook (NY). They have been active from 1970 to 1983. During their career, they recorded three brilliant albums, including Entourage (1973) and The Neptune Collection (1975), Ceremony of Dreams in 1978. All of them can be now considered as true visionary, cult albums. Built on lengthy acoustic improvised extatic pieces, these albums approaches the universe of avant-garde theatre and dance. In 1976, the musical collective was commissioned by the Royal Danish ballet to create the music for the representation of Cleopatra. They have been essentially recognised for their magic live performances. The band features Joe Clark on saxophones and keyboards; Rusti Clark on viola and guitar; Michael S. Smith on drums and percussion; and Wall Matthews on guitars, keyboards, and percussion. This is profoundly moving avant-garde / experimental pre-ambient music, offering a variety of instrumentation with a nice hermetic-poetical-exotic flavour.

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THE ENTOURAGE MUSIC AND THEATER ENSEMBLE discography


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3.96 | 5 ratings
The Entourage Music And Theater Ensemble
1973
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Neptune Collection
1976
0.00 | 0 ratings
Cleopatra
1976

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THE ENTOURAGE MUSIC AND THEATER ENSEMBLE Reviews


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 The Entourage Music And Theater Ensemble by ENTOURAGE MUSIC AND THEATER ENSEMBLE, THE  album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.96 | 5 ratings

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The Entourage Music And Theater Ensemble
The Entourage Music and Theater Ensemble Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars While sometimes nestled into the world of psychedelic folk and even Indo-raga surrealism, the musical entity called THE ENTOURAGE MUSIC AND THEATER ENSEMBLE was actually more of a complex avant-garde type of third stream ambient band that based its music on flow energy and the dream state experience. Initially forming in Baltimore, MD, they relocated to Millbrook, NY and then settled in New London, CT. The group was formed in 1970 by the two founders Joe Clark (sax and keyboard player) and Rusti Clark (viola and guitar player) and no they were not related. The band also consisted of Michael Smith on percussion and Wall Matthews on guitars, keys and percussion. They would also add different flavors of exotic instruments. While the music more than stands up on its own, it was actually designed to be performed in theaters in combination with dance ensembles in order to create a visual and auditory union.

The band released three albums with the first two appearing on the Smithsonian Folkways label. The eponymous debut was released in 1973 to mostly positive reviews which touted the group as being highly original and a breath of fresh air in the oversaturated experimental music market. The music itself was designed to accompany the universe of avant-garde theatre and dance and was built on both lengthy and short acoustic improvised ecstatic pieces. They were renowned for their magical live performances but even without the visual accompaniments, THE ENTOURAGE MUSIC AND THEATER ENSEMBLE did indeed create some of the most unique and complex musical experiences of the early 70s outside the context of progressive rock itself (which this outfit is loosely associated with). The band itself consider their music a form of avant-garde experimental pre-ambient that offers a nice hermetic-poetical-exotic flavor.

Personally i'm actually stumped as to how to label this bizarre musical experience myself. Avant-garde definitely covers it, but as we all know, that is a term designated for the unclassifiable and for the type of arts that exist in a realm unoccupied by others. Throughout this nine track album parades a whole plethora of musical styles and genres neatly wrapped into one. One constant is the acoustic unplugged nature of the band however beyond that simple classification, the genre twisting is quite eclectic. There seems to be traces of Western classical, bona fide Indo-raga (in the opener "Piece for E-Flat Soprano Saxophone, Guitar, and Thumb Piano), jazz, free-form folk, psychedelia and even exotic Middle Eastern scales (as heard on tracks like "Giraffes.") Tracks that lack percussion and focus on complex melodic counterpoint (such as the percussionless "Episode") and those that exclusively rely on percussion such as the aptly named "Percussion Dance" which brings out an interesting array of drum interplay and cymbal action. The vibe can come across as a chamber orchestra such as The Penguin Cafe Orchestra and as experimental as the avant-garde artists of the 60s such as Terry Riley or Harry Partch.

This is a group that i've never encountered until my recent sudden dive into the psychedelic folk and Indo-raga world of the 60s / 70s era and i have to declare that THE ENTOURAGE MUSIC AND THEATER ENSEMBLE is one of the best groups in these nebulous classifications. They were extremely talented as musicians and could effortlessly fuse all the disparate genres complete with demanding time signature deviations and somehow still retain a free flowing melodic state that was gentle on the ears. Perhaps the closest band i could compare them to would be Codona but that would be only be a generalization since this group was in a league of its own. Listening to this album 44 years after its release only reminds me of how much music i missed out on in the magical era where creative minds flourished and flowed like Angel Falls. The live performances must have been divine since the music segregated from the visuals is quite intricate and beautifully composed. While the psychedelic vibe of the 60s is well retained in the free-form flow of the music, the technical aspects are quite well developed. My favorite combo effect! Highly recommended for those who love 20th century avant-garde Western classical complexities infused with the gentle warmth of traditional folk and world ethnic music.

Thanks to philippe Blache for the artist addition.

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