All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

241

Roscoe Mitchell and The Note Factory: Far Side

Charles Walker By

Sign in to view read count
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 how it doesn't resemble jazz, or classical, or world music. Reed multi-instrumentalist Roscoe Mitchell was there at the beginning, and has been as subject to that confusion as any of his cohorts.

Which is why it's nice to know that, no matter how maligned or forgotten his legacy, he is still out there producing work full of surprise and serious intent. Caught live in early 2007, and surrounded by young luminaries including pianists Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn, and trumpeter Corey Wilkes, with Far Side, Mitchell presents a long, demanding hour of listening, the type of work that brings its greatest rewards through close attention. That's not to say it's quiet or subdued—the last half of the 30-minute opener, "Far Side/Cards/Far Side," is rambunctious, wily and wild—but that it focuses primarily on momentum through interaction, with sectional motifs rising and falling in an evolutionary way.

For example, there is that steamrolling second half of the album opener. Mitchell slithers, snake-like, on soprano over the double piano/double bass/double drum bed, an all-out assault that resembles nothing so much as the East Coast energy music against which the AACM was partly rebelling. Here, however, it serves as a wonderful release after the bowed, scraped, and breathy silences that gradually build towards it. There is nothing in the other three tracks that quite equal this tour de force, but they all blur the lines between composition and improvisation, soloist and group or stasis and momentum, in interesting ways.

This is fine American experimental music, a mature master of group dynamic leaving yet another testament to his consistency of purpose over the years. If you like Mitchell's thornier music, then you know more or less what to expect here, and it delivers in that everyone within the group is on their knottiest, most demanding behavior. If you are not familiar, this is as good a place as any to start: a group of young, energetic collaborators raised in an experimental sound-world Mitchell helped create, recorded in crystal-clear sound, and divided into four easy-to-digest tracks.

Track Listing: Far Side/Cards/Far Side; Quintet 2007 A For Eight; Trio Four For Eight; Ex Flover Five.

Personnel: Roscoe Mitchell: saxophones, flutes; Corey Wilkes: trumpet, flugelhorn; Craig Taborn: piano; Vijay Iyer: piano; Harrison Bankhead: double-bass, cello; Jaribu Shahid: double-bass; Tani Tabbal: drums; Vincent Davis: drums.

Title: Far Side | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: ECM Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read My Singing Fingers CD/LP/Track Review
My Singing Fingers
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 25, 2018
Read Ain't It Grand? CD/LP/Track Review
Ain't It Grand?
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 25, 2018
Read If Not Now, When? CD/LP/Track Review
If Not Now, When?
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 25, 2018
Read Perfectly Unhappy CD/LP/Track Review
Perfectly Unhappy
by Gareth Thompson
Published: May 25, 2018
Read Sorrows & Triumphs CD/LP/Track Review
Sorrows & Triumphs
by Jerome Wilson
Published: May 25, 2018
Read Half Light CD/LP/Track Review
Half Light
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 24, 2018
Read "Live In London" CD/LP/Track Review Live In London
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 8, 2017
Read "Moment Frozen" CD/LP/Track Review Moment Frozen
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read "Contrast" CD/LP/Track Review Contrast
by Thad Aerts
Published: May 19, 2018
Read "Live In Belgium" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Belgium
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 4, 2018
Read "Avant-Garde Party Music" CD/LP/Track Review Avant-Garde Party Music
by Mark Corroto
Published: October 26, 2017
Read "Mikrojazz!: Neue Expressionistische Musik" CD/LP/Track Review Mikrojazz!: Neue Expressionistische Musik
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 5, 2017