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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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