An ecstatic and intense album of saxophone and drum improvisation from the duo of AACM legend Roscoe Mitchel and drummer Mike Reed, also performing on electronics, the two Chicago mainstays performing at the Oorstof concert series 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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• Show Bio for Mike Reed
"Mike Reed (b. Bielefeld, Germany May 26, 1974) is a musician, composer, bandleader and arts presenter based in Chicago. Over the last two decades he has emerged as a dominant force within Chicago's diverse artistic community, both through the music he makes and the live events he produces. In addition to leading or co-leading several working bands, all rooted deeply in jazz and improvised music, he's founding director of the Pitchfork Music Festival, the current programming chair of the Chicago Jazz Festival, and the owner and director of the acclaimed performing arts venue Constellation. He is a devoted cultural advocate committed to providing platforms for artistic expression unhindered by commercial pressures. In 2016 he also became the owner of the Hungry Brain, a cozy neighborhood tavern that's been a fulcrum for live creative music and socially-driven public programs.
His long-running post-bop quartet People, Places & Things has collaborated with guest musicians like Ira Sullivan, Julian Priester, Art Hoyle, Craig Taborn, and Matthew Shipp over the years. An expanded iteration of that project called Flesh & Bone, augmented by additional horn players and vocalist/poet Marvin Tate Reed, has pushed the project in new directions. The endeavor was initiated by the leader's deeply personal reaction to a race riot he found himself in the midst of in the town of Prerov in the Czech Republic during a 2009 tour. Reed also leads an improvisation-heavy quintet called Loose Assembly as well as the expansive octet Living by Lanterns (with includes guitarist Mary Halvorson, cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, drummer Tomas Fujiwara, and saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock). Over the last couple of years he's played in Artifacts, a collective trio with flutist Nicole Mitchell and cellist Tomeka Reid, devoted to interpreting music by members of the AACM-a body of work rarely interpreted by musicians other than the composers.
In addition to forging ongoing collaborative relationships with first-wave AACM figures like the legendary reedist Roscoe Mitchell and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, Reed remains a lynchpin in his native city, working as a key member of vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz's trio Sun Rooms as well as the octet led by bassist Jason Roebke. Over the years he was worked with Chicago musicians like guitarist Jeff Parker, flutist Nicole Mitchell, saxophonists Fred Anderson, and cornetist Rob Mazurek. He's a member of Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), where he served as vice-chairperson between 2009-2011. Downbeat Magazine has regularly recognized Reed as Jazz Artist, Rising Star in in its annual Critics Poll since 2009, and one of the 80 Best Things About Jazz in its 80th Anniversary issue. In 2010 The Chicago Tribune named Reed as one of its Chicagoans of the year and in 2014 Chicago Magazine cited him as the 94th most powerful and influential person in the city. In 2016 Reed was awarded a prestigious United States Artists fellowship from the Doris Duke Foundation, recognized for his "unique artistic voice that expands the creative environment of the United States."
Reed's organizational talents first surfaced when he and cornetist Josh Berman launched the Sunday Transmission series at the Hungry Brain in 2000. That weekly series as remained a crucial nexus of performance and socializing for jazz and improvised musicians in Chicago, and it opened the door for Reed's entrepreneurial side. In 2005 he parlayed his increased experience into large multi-day music festivals in partnership with the influential music website Pitchfork; the event is now one of the most important summer music festivals in the world. Soon he joined the committee that programs the annual Chicago Jazz Festival-the largest free jazz festival in the world. He also helped launch the city's Downtown Sound music series, a free weekly concert program presented in Millennium Park that has featured an eclectic mix of indie rock, world music, and contemporary soul, and he remains involved with its programming.
His interest in programming a widening range of performance reached its apex in the spring of 2013 when he opened Constellation, a multi-room venue that rapidly made its mark on the local arts scene. From the outset he partnered with the renowned Chicago dance organization Links Hall to program nightly events. As a building partner, Links Hall brings decades of experience fostering artistic growth in dance, performance art, film and other media, while Reed has quickly established Constellation as a hothouse for jazz, improvised, experimental, and contemporary classical music. Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune has called it, "one of the most important rooms in the city," and in its first year in business, the Chicago Reader named the space the Best New Music Venue."-Mike Reed Website (https://www.mikereed-music.com/about)
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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
Also available on CD.
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