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Roscoe Mitchell/Tatsu Aoki: Chicago Duos/First Look

Mark Corroto By

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You have to respect jazz musicians for their calling to this (less then popular) music. That said, how does one show proper admiration for the likes of Roscoe Mitchell? The AACM and Art Ensemble of Chicago musician has been laboring in the trenches for nearly fifty years! Those caught under the spell of his saxophone solos know the forces he can marshall, all within the instantaneous moment of improvisation.

I guess you show respect by pausing to allow his music to enter your body and mind. Such an exercise is quite an easy task on this duo recording with Chicago bassist Tatsu Aoki. At first listen, the music brings to mind the recent passing of AEC bassist and Mitchell collaborator Malachi Favors Maghostut. Aoki acts as the perfect balance for Mitchell. The bassist has a perfect sense of time, and moreover a unique sensibility for minimalism with groove. His solo recordings are well worth searching for, as are his duos with Malachi Favors and Fred Anderson.

The disc opens and closes with pieces that feature the oceanic waves of vibration Aoki's bass gives forth. Mitchell takes up the role of percussionist before playing flute on the opening and closing procession.

In between, the disc is a Mitchell showcase. The fifteen-minute piece "The Journey opens with a percussive search that segues into Aoki's constant pulse while Mitchell unwinds a burning alto saxophone improvisation. Mitchell's circular breathing is featured on "Glide, Aoki mimicking it with constant bowing tension. The interplay on "Dot has each player answering the jabs and forays of the other. Its playfulness—with Mitchell's honking geese and Aoki's nimble walk—must be a crowd-pleasing favorite when they perform together.

Separate or together, these two musicians deserve our attention, and Chicago Duos is quite a precious recording.


Track Listing: In; East Side Easy; Number Five Wings Place; The Journey; Glide; Dot; Journey For The Cause; Yoshihashi; Out.

Personnel: Roscoe Mitchell: reeds, flute, percussion; Tatsu Aoki: acoustic bass, percussion.

Title: Chicago Duos/First Look | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Southport Records


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