Recent Chicago AACM members cellist Tomeka Reid, flutist Nicole Mitchell, and drummer Mike Reed formed this trio to perform pieces from the rich 50 year history of the AACM, each bringing favorite compositions including those from Roscoe Mitchell, Jeff Parker, Art Ensemble, &c.
Mitchell, Nicole / Tomeka Reid / Mike Reed
Label: 482 Music
Released in: USA
"Five decades ago some of the most important thinkers and musicians in the future history of creative music gathered on the South Side of Chicago to chart a new path of self-determination. The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians was formed to allow a core group of visionaries to present original music without the impediments of the local jazz business. They presented their own concerts, often in settings miles apart from the noisy, inattentive setting of jazz clubs that were often hostile to their music. Hindsight now confirms that Muhal Richard Abrams, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Wadada Leo Smith, Amina Claudine Myers, and many others were onto something big. Of course, the AACM has prospered ever since, fostering a remarkable string of talent. Now, an all-star trio of recent AACM members has formed to celebrate that legacy during its 50th anniversary. Cellist Tomeka Reid, flutist Nicole Mitchell, and drummer Mike Reed - three of the most important and acclaimed musicians connected to the AACM over the last two decades - recognized the value of taking a look at the AACM's rich history for their new collective trio, which Tomeka Reid conceived for a concert in Seattle early in 2015.
The 2015 concert calendar has been packed with events celebrating the organization's legacy, although most of these events have featured new work - one of the AACM's key tenets was to create new, original music. The problem with this ethos is that much of the music that's been produced by AACM figures has been relegated to recordings. This repertoire is a living, breathing thing, and this dynamic trio is masterfully reinvigorating it on this debut recording. "I wanted to do something, since my participation in the organization has been a big part of my Chicago music experience and I wanted to honor that," says the cellist.
Says Mitchell, who now lives in Los Angeles where she teaches at the University of California, Irvine: "50 years later, Mike, Tomeka and I stand back and look at this beautiful legacy and we want to go into the portal and be a part of some of that past while we ride into the future with our own music. We're all clearly committed to making our own music all the time, but it's also a fun adventure to play some of these tunes that even the composers might have left behind for the new."
Adds Reed, one of the most respected bandleaders and concert presenters in Chicago: "So much of what they were wanting to accomplish has happened. Also, it's evident that none of the early members wanted their compositions to go away or not be accessible and archived." Each member of the group brought in some of their favorite pieces, forming an impressive repertoire spanning the AACM's entire history - from Roscoe Mitchell's "Jo Jar," a piece originally cut by a quartet that presaged the Art Ensemble, to guitarist Jeff Parker's "Days Fly By With Ruby," which is based on a riff from Fred Anderson's "Bernice" and here braided together to underline the connection.
Reid points out that while the trio might be looking into the past, its arrangements are thoroughly contemporary. "Our instrumentation gives many of the works another spin as none of the seIected pieces were created with our exact format," she says. Indeed, the trio brings a unique personality to compositions by Abrams, Braxton, Myers, Leroy Jenkins, Edward Wilkerson Jr., and Threadgill's trio Air.
For Mitchell, the trio was also an opportunity to try new ideas with her own technique. "This is its the first group that I'm utilizing electronic effects with my flute," she says. "It's a new language I'm working on but I don't want to use it in every situation. I thought this trio would be a perfect place to take off with these experiments." All three musicians lead their own bands and have established strong personalities. Reid recently released her debut album as leader with a quartet featuring guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Jason Roebke, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara. Mitchell, a prolific composer, has released many albums by various incarnations of her Black Earth Ensemble as well as larger bands chronicling a slew of album-length suites. Reed leads the quartet People, Places and Things and the quintet Loose Assembly, in addition to operating the celebrated Chicago multi-arts venue Constellation.
One listen makes it clear that there's nothing nostalgic or retro about this endeavor. Reid, Mitchell, and Reed explore the past through an utterly contemporary lens. "Perhaps those that have closely followed the AACM are familiar with these compositions, but maybe through hearing our performance or recording, some listeners might be compelled to investigate the originals and the AACM in general, continuing to expand the awareness of those composers and the organization."-482 Music
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Label: 482 Music
Catalog ID: 482-1093
Squidco Product Code: 21632
Recorded at Foxhall by Dorian Gerhing.
Nicole Mitchell-flutes, electronics
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1. Composition 23B 3:26
2. Jo Jar 4:35
3. Bernice / Days Fly By with Ruby 8:15
4. The Clowns 4:28
5. Have Mercy Upon Us 6:06
6. B.K. 5:48
7. I'll Be Right Here Waiting 3:11
8. Munkt Munk 4:30
9. Light on the Path 5:54