January was a tough month for the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, a loose but vital organization that has jumpstarted some of the most inquisitive sound in the United States for the last half-century. Two key early figures in that cadre, Joseph Jarman and Alvin Fielder, died within days of one another. Though they did not rise to the level of fame or awards like, say, collaborators Anthony Braxton or Lester Bowie, their influence was profound. “Each individual will pass on, and while we’re saddened by the demise of Alvin Fielder and Joseph Jarman, we’ve been enriched by their accomplishments in the course of their long, productive lives,” Howard Mandel writes in his great NPR memorial for them both. “Their personal, particular sounds may be subsumed in the greater aggregate to which they belonged, but if we know what to listen for, their distinctive music echoes on.” The Art Ensemble of Chicago, which Jarman cofounded, plays Big Ears 2019.