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Nine To Get Ready is Roscoe Mitchell & The Note Factory which is an aggregate of modern day jazz stylists well known for improvisational abilities and equally at home in a structured environment. To quote Mitchell from the liners......”Nine To Get Ready is the coming together of a dream I had many years ago of putting together an ensemble of improvising musicians with an orchestral range”. Mitchell’s vision is starkly realized as these fine musical craftsmen conquer Mitchell’s diverse, musically demanding and multi-textured compositions with grace and aplomb.
The opener, “Leola” commences with a lovely piano introduction presumably by pianist, Craig Taborn; although, avant-garde pianist Matthew Shipp shares the dual piano role. The horn section consisting of jazz heavyweights: Hugh Ragin (trumpet), George Lewis (trombone) and saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell join in with a soft, airy and lushly romantic arrangement. As one would expect, the arrangement becomes slightly off-center featuring dialogue of a call and response nature. Ultimately, the band converges as the endearing and gorgeous main theme is profoundly restated. “For Lester B” is a nod to Mitchell’s longtime “Art Ensemble of Chicago” comrade, trumpeter Lester Bowie. This arrangement mirrors Bowie’s compositional style, which tends to be blues driven, expansive, brassy and melodic. Here, George Lewis and Hugh Ragin trade thrilling choruses, which is very much evident via strong doses of conversational dialogue in the piece titled, “Dream and Response”. “Hop Hip Bip Bir Rip” is all about hard hitting impact and parallels later day Coltrane as Mitchell and company state the very “punctual” theme and reach for the stars through rapid-fire free dialogue. This composition is guided by Mitchell’s amazing circular motion soprano sax work as Lewis and Ragin engage more sinewy call and response type dialogue.
Throughout this recording the rhythm section is doubled up, featuring William Parker (bass), Jaribu Shadid (bass), Tani Tabbal (drums) and Gerald Cleaver (drums). The piece titled, “Bessie Harris” could be an Oliver Nelson arrangement gone awry? Loads of fun, whimsical and chugs along like a locomotive. On this track, the venerable George Lewis performs one of his trademark rapid fire and meticulously constructed ‘bone solos. “Fallen Heroes” features pensive flute work by Mitchell and “Move Toward The Light” is at times skittish as Mitchell and company trade choruses in clusters. The upbeat R&B composition, “Big Red Peaches” is the light hearted and affable closer.
Nine To Get Ready is diverse, colorful, jubilant and beautifully recorded as one would expect from ECM. Roscoe Mitchell’s stature as a long-standing ambassador for modern jazz is reinforced with this fine release. **** ½
All compositions by Roscoe Mitchell
Roscoe Mitchell; Soprano, Alto, Tenor Sax, Flute & Lead Vocal: Hugh Ragin; Trumpet; George Lewis; Trombone: Matthew Shipp; Piano: Craig Taborn; Piano: Jaribu Shahid; Bass & Vocals: William Parker; Bass: Tani Tabbal; Drums, Jimbe & Vocal: Gerald Cleaver; Drums
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.