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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Roscoe Mitchell/Tony Marsh/John Edwards: Improvisations

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Not content with existence as a cutting edge venue for experimental music of all kinds, London's Cafe Oto has also launched its own record label OTOroku, documenting some of the stellar performances in the space. For their sixth release, they have selected material drawn from a 2 day residency by renowned AACM and Art Ensemble of Chicago reedman Roscoe Mitchell. In a continuation of a favorite Oto tactic of matching acclaimed guests with the cream of local improvisers, Mitchell meets for the first time drummer Tony Marsh and bassist John Edwards, on Improvisations, a double LP also available as a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Roscoe Mitchell Quartet: Live At "A Space" 1975

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The Canadian label Sackville released a series of exceptional albums throughout its forty plus year existence. A fair number of these document free-jazz concerts by American luminaries that took place in its hometown of Toronto. When the company folded, Chicago based Delmark purchased its Avant-Garde catalogue and has released expanded versions of these records on CD.One such gem is reedman Roscoe Mitchell's Live At 'A Space' 1975 now augmented with 20 minutes of previously unissued material. Mitchell, known for his association with the groundbreaking quartet, Art Ensemble of Chicago and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Roscoe Mitchell: Three Compositions

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On Three Compositions, veteran Chicago saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell's scores are interpreted by an established grouping with an AACM lineage, namesake flautist Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble, unlike his previous album of written material, Numbers (Rogue Art, 2011), which featured a varied cast of contemporary players. It makes all the difference. This performance was one of three by the flautist's band at the 2009 edition of Sardinia's Sant' Anna Arresi jazz festival, and is captured here in sparkling clarity. Mitchell's subtle but richly detailed charts, often involving subsets of musicians, are brought vibrantly into focus by the Black Earth Ensemble, both ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Roscoe Mitchell: Numbers

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What's the difference between composition and improvisation once the music has been committed to disc? At that point even the wildest flights of fancy become fixed and immutable, able to be reheated and pored over at leisure. One difference may lie in the notation-defying musical characteristics integral to the finest improvisations: continual variation of tone and timbre and a high degree of rhythmic complexity. This distinction could apply to expositions by reeds or strings, but it becomes less pertinent for tempered instruments such as piano. Conversely, a written score allows a level of structural rigor and development of themes beyond ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Roscoe Mitchell: London, England, March 9, 2012

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Roscoe MitchellCafé OtoLondonMarch 9, 2012 Saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell followed an increasingly well trod path. Dalston's Cafe Oto has a strong track record in bringing great names from the free jazz past to the north London stage, with previous guest artists including trumpeters Wadada Leo Smith and Ted Daniel, and saxophonists Joe McPhee, John Tchicai, Sonny Simmons and Arthur Doyle. Now added to that illustrious roster was a two-day residency for the reedman and founding member of Chicago's AACM, though perhaps best known as part of the world-renowned Art Ensemble of Chicago. Over the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Roscoe Mitchell and The Note Factory: Far Side

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In his recent book about the AACM, A Power Stronger Than Itself (University of Chicago, 2007), trombonist/composer/critic George Lewis makes a serious, thoroughly researched argument for its members creating their own lineage of American “experimental music," influenced as much by pan-African musics or juke joint jam sessions as by European high art music, and yet beholden to none of those idioms exclusively. As a result, for the critic or historian, it has always been difficult to even know how to talk about this stuff, to put it in its proper context, to appreciate it for what it is, rather than ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mike Reed's Loose Assembly Featuring Roscoe Mitchell: Empathetic Parts

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The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) has nurtured the talents of Chicago's most inventive artists since 1965. Drummer Mike Reed, the venerable organization's recently appointed Vice Chairman, repays the favor on Empathetic Parts, with his longstanding quintet, Loose Assembly, by welcoming one of the Association's original founders, multi-instrumentalist Roscoe Mitchell, as featured guest soloist.A veteran organizer and concert promoter, Reed's affinity for collaborating with his elders is reflected in his budding discography. Trumpeter Art Hoyle, saxophonist Ira Sullivan and trombonist Julian Priester were featured prominently on Stories & Negotiations (482 Music, 2010), Reed's previous release ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Roscoe Mitchell and the Note Factory: Far Side

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Roscoe Mitchell's Far Side, with its theatrical quality, could easily function as a soundtrack to a modernist play. The beginning of the first and longest piece, “Far Side/Cards/Far Side," is reminiscent of the works of 20th century composers like Alfred Schnitke and Arvo Pärt, in the ominous sea of notes pouring out of the dual pianos and basses that buoy Mitchell's breathy and urgent alto sound. As Mitchell's saxophone grows stronger and clearer, the strings give way to an almost Beckett-ian six-way dialogue among the trumpet, alto sax, piano, bass, cello and drums. The second half starts ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Roscoe Mitchell and the Note Factory: Far Side

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It's been over a decade since reed and woodwind multi-instrumentalist Roscoe Mitchell--a veteran of Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), which he helped establish in the mid-1960s, in addition to co-founding the groundbreaking Art Ensemble of Chicago, around the same time--released Nine to Get Ready (ECM, 1999), with his Note Factory group. Far Side, Mitchell's first Note Factory session since The Bad Guys (Around Jazz, 2003), pares the group back to a double-quartet, with six members from Song for My Sister (Pi, 2002) creating a degree of continuity, moving the group forward while, at the same time, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Muhal Richard Abrams / Roscoe Mitchell: Spectrum

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Muhal Richard Abrams and Roscoe Mitchell are arguably the two figures most central to the birth and rearing of the seminal '60s collective the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). The organization was borne out of Abrams' Experimental Band and the first standing group to emerge from it was the Roscoe Mitchell Art Ensemble (later rechristened the Art Ensemble of Chicago). It seems a bit strange, then, that their careers have run such separate, while nearly parallel, paths. Both have worked deeply in the particular form of exploratory jazz that came out of the AACM through various instrumentations ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Roscoe Mitchell / David Wessel: Contact

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While esteemed reedman Roscoe Mitchell has appeared in any number of challenging settings, this marks his first documented encounter with electronics. Not that this is a recent move, more that the fruits of his collaboration with David Wessel have not seen the light of day until now. They first met back in 1968 when Mitchell, along with other members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, moved into the house next door to Wessel's California home. Over the years projects included a piece for the 1986 International Computer Music Conference, the 2002 sessions presented here on CD following Wessel's invitation to ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Roscoe Mitchell: Nonaah

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Roscoe Mitchell Nonaah Nessa Records 2008

One of the significant things that set AACM music apart from its brethren in New York in the 1960s and early 1970s was its use of space, of opening up the music so that things could occur within broad, environmental relationships. That sense of space was very important. In an entirely different take on "energy" music, the challenge of discerning what could be perceived as multiple, self-contained orbits was uniquely gratifying. To listeners weaned on the intervallic leaps of reed player Eric Dolphy and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Roscoe Mitchell / The Transatlantic Art Ensemble: Composition/Improvisation Nos. 1, 2 & 3

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The distinction made between jazz and classical music is usually one of rhythm and artistic depth, of improvisation versus composition, of the player being the creator versus the player as interpreter. However, upon deeper reflection, the two musics both have composers and interpreters, with the difference being one of emphasis. Saxophonist and composer Roscoe Mitchell has long worked in the space where the composed and the improvised coexist and merge. Composition/Improvisation Nos. 1, 2 & 3 is a glorious example of music that expertly combines the strengths of both. The players chosen for the Transatlantic Art Ensemble ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Festival International Musique Actuelle Victoriaville: Day 4 - May 18, 2008

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Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5

Nick Didkovsky / Gunda Gottschalk and Xu Fengxia / Roscoe Mitchell & The Note FactoryFestival International Musique Actuelle VictoriavilleVictoriaville, Quebec, CanadaMay 18, 2008

Introducing Day Four of Festival International Musique Actuelle Victoriaville, FIMAV Artistic Director Michel Levasseur recalled when, in 2005 he recruited Thurston Moore to curate a full day of noise improv, the Sonic Youth guitarist/noise improviser told him, “After today, you'll never be the same again." Those were his words for a day programmed with ...



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