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Muhal Richard Abrams / George Lewis / Roscoe Mitchell: Streaming

Mark Corroto By

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To paraphrase Jack Nicholson from the 1997 film As Good As It Gets, this recording "...makes me want to be a better listener. Impeccably recorded, Streaming brings together (once again) three AACM giants for an hour of open (their word) improvisation.

Like Stephen Hawkins has done with casual conversation, artists Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis, and Roscoe Mitchell have long since abandoned music—for sound. That is not to say that for these artists, or the act of creating these open improvisations of sound, are anything but musical. It's like the difference between the euphony of a Southerner's voice and the roughness of a NY cabbie's: all things project their own musicality.

These three players have produced recordings together in the past: Shadowgraph (Black Saint, 1977), Nonaah (Nessa, 1978), and Spihumonesty (Black Saint, 1980). The real catalyst for this reunion was their performance at the 2005 Venice Biennale.

As with all great free music, I can only give you subjective impressions of my listening experience. The intent of the musicians, the sound projected, and the consciousness of the listener are all factors that go without comment.

Muhal Richard Abrams can make the thunder come from his piano, and also the tinkle of rain. His one-handed phrases comment on the rich sounds produced by the horns of Lewis and Mitchell. For his part Roscoe Mitchell has long immersed himself in the outward saxophone and multi-armored percussion presentation. His work with the Art Ensemble of Chicago is evident here, as is the playfulness of George Lewis' laptop injections. Whether he is playing off the other musicians or laying down ambient computer noise, I get the feeling he is listening very intently. As are his fellow musicians, and perhaps you too.

Track Listing: Scrape: Bound; Dramaturns; Soundhear; Steaming.

Personnel: Muhal Richard Abrams: piano, bell, bamboo flute, taxi horn, percussion; George Lewis: trombone, laptop; Roscoe Mitchell: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, percussion.

Title: Streaming | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Pi Recordings

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