Chicago luminary, multi-wind player Roscoe Mitchell has collaborated over the previous 2 decades with multi-instrumentalist Stephen Rush, here joining Rush's band Yugonaut with Tom Abbs on bass, cello, violin, tuba & digideroo and Geoff Mann on drums, cornet & banjo, to perform these energetic improvisations live at Ann Arbor's Edgefest in 2009.
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Catalog ID: NES 38
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Recorded at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on October 16th and 17th, 2009, by Jason Corey.
Roscoe Mitchell-flute, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone
Stephen Rush-synthesizer, keyboards, trombone, euphonium, ocarina, slide whistle, melodica, recorder , balloons
Tom Abbs-bass, cello, violin, tuba, didgeridoo
Geoff Mann-drums, cornet, banjo
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• Show Bio for Roscoe Mitchell
"Roscoe Mitchell (born August 3, 1940) is an American composer, jazz instrumentalist, and educator, known for being "a technically superb - if idiosyncratic - saxophonist." The Penguin Guide to Jazz described him as "one of the key figures" in avant-garde jazz; All About Jazz states that he has been "at the forefront of modern music" for the past 35 years. Critic Jon Pareles in The New York Times has mentioned that Mitchell "qualifies as an iconoclast." In addition to his own work as a bandleader, Mitchell is known for cofounding the Art Ensemble of Chicago and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).
Mitchell was born in Chicago, Illinois. He also grew up in the Chicago area, where he played saxophone and clarinet at around age twelve. His family was always involved in music with many different styles playing in the house when he was a child as well as having a secular music background. His brother, Norman, in particular was the one who introduced Mitchell to jazz. While attending Englewood High School in Chicago, he furthered his study of the clarinet. In the 1950s, he joined the United States Army, during which time he was stationed in Heidelberg, Germany and played in a band with fellow saxophonists Albert Ayler and Rubin Cooper, the latter of which Mitchell commented "took me under his wing and taught me a lot of stuff." He also studied under the first clarinetist of the Heidelberg Symphony while in Germany. Mitchell returned to the United States in the early 1960s, relocated to the Chicago area, and performed in a band with Wilson Junior College undergraduates Malachi Favors (bass), Joseph Jarman, Henry Threadgill, and Anthony Braxton (all saxophonists). Mitchell also studied with Muhal Richard Abrams and played in his band, the Muhal Richard Abrams' Experimental Band, starting in 1961.
In 1965, Mitchell was one of the first members of the non-profit organization Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) along with Jodie Christian (piano), Steve McCall (drums), and Phil Cohran (composer). The following year Mitchell, Lester Bowie (trumpet), Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre (tenor saxophone), Favors, Lester Lashley (trombone), and Alvin Fielder (drums), recorded their first studio album, Sound. The album was "a departure from the more extroverted work of the New York-based free jazz players" due in part to the band recording with "unorthodox devices" such as toys and bicycle horns.
From 1967 Mitchell, Bowie, Favors and, on occasion, Jarman performed as the Roscoe Mitchell Art Ensemble, then the Art Ensemble, and finally in 1969 were billed as the Art Ensemble of Chicago. The group included Phillip Wilson on drums for short span before he joined Paul Butterfield's band. The group lived and performed in Europe from 1969 to 1971, though they arrived without any percussionist after Wilson left. To fill the void, Mitchell commented that they "evolved into doing percussion ourselves." The band did eventually get a percussionist, Don Moye, who Mitchell had played with before and was living in Europe at that time. For performances, the band often wore brilliant African costumes and painted their faces. The Art Ensemble of Chicago have been described as becoming "possibly the most highly acclaimed jazz band" in the 1970s and 1980s.
Mitchell and the others returned to the States in 1971. After having been back in Chicago for three years, Mitchell then established the Creative Arts Collective (CAC) in 1974 that had a similar musical aesthetic to the AACM. The group was based in East Lansing, Michigan and frequently performed in auditoriums at Michigan State University. Mitchell also formed the Sound Ensemble in the early 1970s, an "outgrowth of the CAC" in his words, that consisted mainly of Mitchell, Hugh Ragin, Jaribu Shahid, Tani Tabbal, and Spencer Barefield.
In the 1990s, Mitchell started to experiment in classical music with such composers/artists such as Pauline Oliveros, Thomas Buckner, and Borah Bergman, the latter two of which formed a trio with Mitchell called Trio Space. Buckner was also part of another group with Mitchell and Gerald Oshita called Space in the late 1990s. He then conceived the Note Factory in 1992 with various old and new collaborators as another evolution of the Sound Ensemble.
He lived in the area of Madison, Wisconsin and performed with a re-assembled Art Ensemble of Chicago. In 1999, the band was hit hard with the death of Bowie, but Mitchell fought off the urge to recast his position in the group, stating simply "You can't do that" in an interview with Allaboutjazz.com editor-in-chief Fred Jung. The band continued on despite the loss.
Mitchell has made a point of working with younger musicians in various ensembles and combinations, many of whom were not yet born when the first Art Ensemble recordings were made. Mainly from Chicago, these players include trumpeter Corey Wilkes, bassist Karl E. H. Seigfried, and drummer Isaiah Spencer.
In 2007, Mitchell was named Darius Milhaud Chair of Composition at Mills College in Oakland, California, where he currently lives. Mitchell was chosen by Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel to perform at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in March 2012 in Minehead, England."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roscoe_Mitchell)
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1. Double Helix 4:56
2. Improvisation No. 1 6:00
3. Improvisation No. 2 3:15
4. Improvisation No. 3 4:16
5. Cards For Yuganaut No. 1 7:35
6. Cards For Yuganaut No. 2 9:51
7. Cards For Yuganaut No. 3 8:08
8. Four Ways For Yuganaut And Roscoe Mitchell 11:00
9. Son Warship 7:43
sample the album:
"A project nearly a quarter century in conception, Four Ways teams the inimitable Roscoe Mitchell with the multi-instrumentalist Stephen Rush's working trio Yuganaut. The twenty-five year marker denotes Rush's first meeting with Mitchell at the University of Michigan where Rush was on faculty. Sixteen years later Mitchell invited Rush to join his Note Factory band at a gig in Victoriaville. Rush returned the favor the following year at Ann Arbor's Edgefest and results of that second meeting comprise this disc. Producer Chuck Nessa was also indispensable in bringing the music into commercial circulation, proof again of his unflagging support and stewardship of Mitchell's for the past fifty-plus years.
Yuganaut's methods and aesthetics draw immediate antecedents in Mitchell's iconic Art Ensemble of Chicago, most obviously in the trio's incorporation of a broad of assortment of instruments into its arsenal. With Mitchell added, Rush estimates their number at approaching fifty, although only a fraction of that number are pressed into service on the disc. Another indelible influence manifests in Rush's use of MicoMoog and Fender Rhodes. The group opens with Tom Abb's "Double Helix", which could reasonably pass for a Sun Ra Arkestral cover in a blindfold test with its loping processional beat carved drummer Geoff Mann and slideshow succession of tonal colors from the composer's brittle bass and Rush's trombone to Mitchell's keening soprano saxophone.
Three spirited and variegated improvisations follow with Yuganaut devising spontaneous sound environments for Mitchell's relentlessly resourceful reed play. Rush's keyboards gain early prominence on the first piece, dialing up the "Cosmic Tones..."-era Ra comparisons again and effectively sounding like cracked Arthur Lyman exotica on LSD. Abbs whacks away at his bass and Mann creates a modest tumult behind his kit for added color. Mitchell's alto and Abbs tuba do a terpsichorean turn on "Improvisation No. 3" flecked by keyboard effects and fluttering brushes while the final piece in the series juxtaposes electronic drones with conscripted commentary by bass and drums with Mitchell adding ghostly, incredibly precise overtones from the edges on soprano.
The concert's second half gives over to three "Cards" pieces composed by Mitchell specifically for the event. Rush credits them as the most difficult pieces of the performance from a player's perspective. It's here where Mitchell's monstrous composerly talent couples with the close and instantly responsive listening of his colleagues and the music becomes effectively untethered from temporal classification or reference. Moments of disorienting dissonance vie with others of surprising tenderness and restraint to create a complementary suite that is at once immersive and galvanizing. Pieces by Rush and Mann complete the program with more overtly tuneful directions and Mitchell's alto work on the former proves particularly affecting in concert with the composer's electronics. Rush notes his ardent willingness for further collaborations. Here's one listener who's hoping Mitchell takes him up on the offer."-Derek Taylor, Dusted Magazine
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