Roscoe Mitchell: Turn / Hamid Drake / Bindu; Rob Brown / Radiant Pools

Kurt Gottschalk By

Sign in to view read count
The best American jazz artists have often had to look overseas for support. European labels have long proved to be reliable homes for adventurous music. From the looks of its first three releases, the French label Rogue Art might become another safe house.

Roscoe Mitchell
Rogue Art

The most exciting of the label's inaugural issues is a new title from Art Ensemble of Chicago founder Roscoe Mitchell. In itself that is always a notable event, but this new group (with Mitchell's longtime rhythm section Jaribu Shahid and Tani Tabal on bass and drums along with new Art Ensemble trumpeter Corey Wilkes and the excellent young pianist Craig Taborn) stands among his greatest bands. They have all the role and bluster of Mitchell's Note Factory, but stripped down to an economic quintet. Across 14 quick tracks (five break the five-minute mark), they cover much of Mitchell's best improv settings, from jazz heads to percussion structures to horn drives and funky rhythms. The most striking thing here - as with recent Art Ensemble performances - is hearing Mitchell share the front line with a trumpeter so ready to deliver. The young man's gig filling Lester Bowie's shoes was a shock and in no way does he try to emulate the departed master, but he is clearly confident in the partnership. As a whole, the group is comfortable together, ready to let the compositions stand and while Shahid and Tabal haven't been the most exciting parts of Mitchell's groups, here they sound better than ever.

Hamid Drake
Rogue Art

Drummer Hamid Drake has been a major voice in the generation of Chicagoans following the explosion of Mitchell and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. He's most known for a long association with saxophonist Fred Anderson and here makes his recording debut as a bandleader. He called together for the session a quartet of New York and Chicago saxophonists (Daniel Carter, Ernest Dawkins, Sabir Mateen and Greg Ward) and added the great young flutist Nicole Mitchell. The tracks vary from Drake solo (with Afro-esque vocals) to charted vamps and free blows with the horns. The standout, though, is a 14-minute duet with Mitchell, the rare flautist inventive enough to carry such an extended percussion piece. Drake excels especially on the frame drum, as is well evidenced here.

Rob Brown
Radiant Pools
Rogue Art

New York saxophonist Rob Brown's strongest work has been as a sideman (he's on heavy rotation in William Parker's bands) and in the group he co-led with Joe Morris. But if he's been slower to come into his own as a leader, Radiant Pools shows a promise for more. With Morris on bass, Steve Swell on trombone and Luther Gray behind the drums, the group wisely takes its time, letting the pieces unfold, often for close to ten minutes. Swell is as always a phenom and while Morris' bass playing continues to be second fiddle to his great, innovative guitar work, he comes off as more relaxed and on target here. Gray - who has been playing with Morris in recent years - is slow yet strong, a perfect backing for the group.

Rogue Art so far seems to be doing everything right: striking, uniform packaging, hometown recordings and overall excellent sequencing, making all three albums flow beautifully despite the length of the pieces. Unfortunately - as is so often the case with French labels - distribution is shaky in the States. Each is worth a quick grab if stumbled upon.


Personnel: Roscoe Mitchell; Corey Wilkes; Craig Taborn; Jaribu Shahid; Tani Tabbal


Personnel: Hamid Drake; Daniel Carter; Ernest Dawkins; Sabir Mateen Greg Ward; Nicole Mitchell

Radiant Pools

Personnel: Rob Brown; Steve Swell; Joe Morris; Luther Gray


More Articles

Read Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago Multiple Reviews Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 21, 2017
Read New, Notable and Nearly Missed Multiple Reviews New, Notable and Nearly Missed
by Phil Barnes
Published: January 25, 2017
Read Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas Multiple Reviews Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas
by Doug Collette
Published: January 14, 2017
Read Weekertoft Hits Its Stride… Multiple Reviews Weekertoft Hits Its Stride…
by John Eyles
Published: January 7, 2017
Read Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio Multiple Reviews Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio
by Jim Trageser
Published: January 4, 2017
Read 2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon Multiple Reviews 2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 3, 2017
Read "Jan Lundgren: Swedish Ballads... & More...  Quietly There" Multiple Reviews Jan Lundgren: Swedish Ballads... & More... Quietly There
by Chris Mosey
Published: July 13, 2016
Read "Another Timbre’s Violin +1 Series" Multiple Reviews Another Timbre’s Violin +1 Series
by John Eyles
Published: June 9, 2016
Read "Five By Five - More Love From Ivo Perelman" Multiple Reviews Five By Five - More Love From Ivo Perelman
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 4, 2016
Read "Clouds and Stormy Nights: A New Pair from QFTF" Multiple Reviews Clouds and Stormy Nights: A New Pair from QFTF
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 19, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!