An ecstatic and intense album of saxophone and drum improvisation from the duo of AACM legend Roscoe Mitchel and drummer Mike Reeds, also performing on electronics, the two Chicago mainstays performing at the Oorstof concert series at Zuiderpershuis in Antwerp, Belgium in 2015 for an extended single improvisation of passionate and penetrating dialog.
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Label: Astral Spirits
Catalog ID: AS145_LP
Squidco Product Code: 30017
Recorded at the Oorstof concert series Zuiderpershuis, in Antwerp, Belgium, on October 22nd, 2015, by Michael Huon.
Mike Reed-drums, electronics
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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. The Ritual
1. The Dance
sample the album:
"As it opens with supple interplay between swirling soprano saxophone, droning bells and subtle percussion, the newest release by Saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell and drummer Mike Reed, The Ritual and the Dance, is a testament to Mitchell's rich musical language which has been slowly built through collaborations like this one for over 50 years.
Roscoe Mitchell has always been a musician that has fascinated and inspired me, with his mixture of boundary pushing mastery of his instrument and deep interest in the pedagogical process. He remains a significant composer that has challenged conventions of, not only making, but also listening. Hearing him for the first time in my early 20s through his 1968 album Congliptious - I was introduced to an artist of staggering imagination and an extraordinary emotional depth that led through me a path that has reshaped my views on the sonic. His collaborations with younger artists have always shown the universality of his fifty-year plus career of exploration. One performance that displays this was his 2019 duo performance with poet and experimental musician Moor Mother at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
Recorded at the Oorstof concert series in Antwerp, a year after the duo's 2014 release, In Pursuit of Magic, this new record definitely builds on the ideas Mitchell and Reed explored previously. The duo preoccupy themselves with tonal dispersion and reassembly. A journey, which methodically builds sound before allowing it to dissipate in the air slowly. While the album displays the classic melange of erudite harmonic passages and subtle but powerful rhythmic work, it also shows the duo's structured approach to improvisation. Like most of their music, it shatters and rebuilds ones preconceived notion of what music can do. This, especially for myself, was deeply needed in the vicious Covid-19 world that we are currently living through. A life saturated with digital stimuli and regimented movement, The Ritual and the Dance points to how no matter how much technology we are consumed by, the sonic still has the ability to shock, amuse and amaze.
Mitchell, who co-founded Art Ensemble of Chicago and was an early member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), has long pushed the ideas of exchange, most famously the interplay between composition and improvisation. But also, the exchange between playing and listening, and on this album the exchange with each instrument's role - each performer serving as drummer or harmonic base with their respective instrument. The album moves in interesting ways, with Mitchell's overblowing leading to infectious percussive assaults before switching into gorgeous melodies while Reed takes over switches between harmonic tom flourishes or polyrhythmic attacks. This interplay builds and builds to exceptional highs but simultaneously deconstructs itself to a delicate home one can find refuge in. While their playing is incredibly active and generative, the use of silence remains paramount.
In a 2015 interview, Mitchell said, "Silence is perfect. You have to study that. You have to go somewhere where it's really quiet and see how intense it is. So it's on you that when you come in, it has to be on that level. If it's not, you're going to be exposed." As the 36-minute performance reaches its halfway point, this respect for silence and what is unheard drops in with Reed taking the reigns and exploring resonance through a back-and-forth between tight repetition and playful complexity before Mitchell introduces harsh drones on Alto Saxophone which eddy around angular drumming. The performance moves toward an introspective close with bells hanging in the air."-Andrei Van Wyk, Jazz Right Now
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