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Roscoe Mitchell: Dots - Works For Percussion and Woodwinds

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Roscoe Mitchell: Dots - Works For Percussion and Woodwinds
Roscoe Mitchell occupies a special place in the pantheon of music. He is a founding member of the Art Ensemble Of Chicago and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and has taught at the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin, the California Institute of the Arts and Mills College in Oakland, California.

For all intents and purposes, the 2004 NYC concert, Non-Cognitive Aspects of the City: Live at the Iridium (Pi Recordings, 2006), was the swan song for AEoC. What followed for the legendary group were works populated by a shadow of the original. The substitution for the original eccentricity was a macabre variation of quirkiness. The two 2021 survivors of the early group, Famoudou Don Moye and Mitchell, have remained active. It would be unfair to inextricably link Mitchell to AEoC were it not for the roots he has clung to in recent years. His second release in less than a year is the very unusual Dots: Pieces for Percussion and Woodwinds.

Mitchell, at eighty-one, remains a restless spirit. His 2020 Distant Radio Transmission (Wide Hive Records) reimagined past AEoC compositions in the company of the large ensemble, Ostravska Banda. Early in 2021 he released The Ritual and the Dance (Astral Spirits) with drummer Mike Reed, a convention-challenging collection. Mitchell's frequent discontented wailing and Reed's ceaseless rattling could have formed the basis for the reed player's Dots. But here, with Mitchell taking on the additional role of percussionist, the similarities end with instrumentation.

Dots consists of nineteen compact improvisations that are often presented as tonal experiments with rare hints of melody. There is little point in dissecting the tracks; bells, gongs, cymbals, and saxophone parse out singular tones. The issue is a lack of rhythmic pulse that renders the music static and absolute. In the absence of movement, it fades into the background until an emphatic cry of the saxophone pulls the ear back in. Taken in small doses, Dots can be interesting but it takes some rummaging about to find those more prominent moments. Kudos to Mitchell for his continued exploration of sound but for a listener seeking even non-traditional characteristics of music, there is subjective value in Dots.

Personnel

Roscoe Mitchell: saxophone, sopranino.

Additional Instrumentation

Roscoe Mitchell: reeds, percussion.

Album information

Title: Dots - Works For Percussion and Woodwinds | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Wide Hide Records

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