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Roscoe Mitchell & Mike Reed: The Ritual and the Dance

John Sharpe By

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Roscoe Mitchell & Mike Reed: The Ritual and the Dance
Though reedman Roscoe Mitchell has appeared as a guest with drummer Mike Reed's Loose Assembly outfit, captured on Empathetic Parts (482 Music, 2010), this compelling set unfurls firmly on Mitchell's improvisatory turf. On The Ritual And The Dance the representatives of two generations of Chicago's AACM combine in a single 36-minute outpouring recorded in Antwerp in 2015, likely during dates to promote an earlier duet In Pursuit Of Magic (482 Music, 2014).

It begins with Mitchell's coiled squeaks, wafting phrases gradually lengthening, undulating, rupturing only to dart up a register, until the interplay with Reed's purposeful metallic clatter becomes almost unbroken. Reed's line is in some ways an analog of Mitchell's horns, as a crisp lurching momentum accumulates from a series of rolls punctuated by textures from cymbal, wood, rim, and drum. Evidence of how Reed carefully modulates his response to subtle variations in the saxophonist's delivery unfolds in a sequence of bass drum kicks which echo the urgency of a succession of Mitchell's hoarse clarion calls.

Whether on sopranino, soprano or alto, Mitchell tends towards a continuous, often circular-breathed, tour de force of blood twisting oscillations, rough- edged timbre and piercing overtones, recalling similar displays such as Contact (Rogue Art, 2010), Improvisations (Otoroku, 2014) and Angel City (Rogue Art, 2015). Close listening reveals the fine grain, as Mitchell obsessively repeats figures, each time seeking a slightly different attack, which generate tension and surprise, making for an edge-of-seat experience.

After one break for Reed's unconventional noise-makers and metal-dominated jangling, Mitchell rejoins with a few querulous blurts, tracing out what could be melody, until fixing on sustaining particular nerve-grating tones without overtone manipulation for once, presaging another masterful torrent. When he stops, Reed continues his ongoing rat-a-tat alone until he progressively supplants it with delicate chimes in a lyrical cooling coda, manufacturing a satisfying closure to a gripping performance.

Track Listing

The Ritual and the Dance.

Personnel

Roscoe Mitchell: saxophone, sopranino; Mike Reed: drums.

Album information

Title: The Ritual and the Dance | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Astral Spirits

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