Seventeen minutes into this thirty-seven minute performance from Roscoe Mitchell and Mike Reed, the saxophonist pauses, removing the soprano from his lips. At that moment, it is clear what an enormous effort the septuagenarian was making. His breath control and lung volume might be matched only by two of his contemporaries, Evan Parker and Peter Brötzmann. But then, you might not be surprised by the saxophonist's attack as he has been at this for half a century.
This duo was recorded in Antwerp in 2015 and it follows the pair's 2013 Chicago recording In Pursuit Of Magic (482 Music, 2013) and the quintet Mike Reed's Loose Assembly Empathetic Parts (482 Music, 2010) with Roscoe Mitchell guesting. As on those prior efforts, their technical mastery is awe-inspiring but this performance is also mesmerizing. Mike Reed performs not just as a supporting actor but as a confederate. His minimal electro- acoustic intervention and drum kit is in constant conversation with Mitchell. Yes, this is free jazz, but it also weaves a coherent thread throughout. Mitchell's saxophone speaks a language, a conversational style which welcomes Reed's tête-à-tête. Together they navigate this dialogue with a patience and stoicism not presumed or anticipated from a free improvisation setting. Weaved together in a coherence that becomes apparent, this partnership is to be admired and eagerly consumed.