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Jazz - Released June 16, 2017 | ECM

Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
For more than 50 years, Roscoe Mitchell has blurred relationships between sound and silence, scripted composition and improvisation, jazz, classical, and even R&B musics as a soloist, bandleader, member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and composer. In 2015, Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art presented a 50th anniversary exhibition devoted to the Association for Advancement of Creative Musicians (or AACM), an organization Mitchell co-founded, in an exhibit called The Freedom Principle. The music on the double-length Bells for the South Side was recorded during the exhibit with four of Mitchell's trios -- James Fei and William Winant; Hugh Ragin and Tyshawn Sorey; Craig Taborn and Kikanju Baku; Jaribu Shahid and Tani Tabbal -- playing separately and in combinations. The music here glances back to the many places Mitchell has visited, but this is no mere retrospective: most of this is bracing new music that looks forward to further exploratory musical landscapes. The set opens with "Spatial Aspects of the Sound," a chamber piece with Baku using wrist bells, Winant's various percussion instruments, and Taborn's and Sorey's pianos. At 12-plus minutes, it unhurriedly allows tones and clusters, movement and stillness, to articulate a range of carefully controlled articulations. On "Panoply," sputtering sopranino, squawking tenor, kit drums, and various percussion instruments engage in aggressive, inspired free interplay. "Prelude to a Rose" contrasts Sorey's trombone, Ragin's trumpets, and Mitchell's reeds in elongated, dovetailing tones through a slowly unfolding melody. "EP 7849" is another combinatory exercise with electronics, electric guitar, cowbell, hand drums, and bowed double bass that offers futurist dissonance and complex, fascinating engagement. "Dancing in the Canyon" is a canny, propulsive, and extremely active free-for-all with Taborn and Baku. On the title track, disc one's closer, the Art Ensemble's army of percussion instruments is utilized. Sorey plays Mitchell’s percussion cage, and Tabbal and Baku the percussion instruments of Don Moye and Malachi Favors, with Winant on Lester Bowie's bass drum. Ragin’s trumpet offers sounds in all registers, while Mitchell digs extremely low-end sounds from his bass sax. It's certainly mysterious, but also utterly lovely. Disc two's "Prelude to the Card Game, Cards for Drums, and the Final Hand" features Mitchell, Tabbal, and Shahid in an intuitive, equaniminous improvisation one would expect from players whose relationship dates back 40 years. Likewise, the extended smearing and droning of Mitchell's and Fei's reeds on "Six Gongs and Two Woodblocks" amid Winant's percussion and Fei's electronics are simultaneously spectral and inquisitive. The closing medley, "Red Moon in the Sky/Odwalla," juxtaposes a new work (the former) with a reading of an Art Ensemble staple, with all players in open, bleating improvisation before a tight, bluesy, modal post-bop sums it all up, displaying the myriad faces of Mitchell's approach to both function and extension in the relentless creation of a poetics in sound. Bells for the South Side is indeed massive, but its depth, breadth, and inspired performances border on the profound. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released June 16, 2017 | ECM

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
Roscoe Mitchell is a major figure of Chicago's avant-garde jazz scene. Founder member of the influential Art Ensemble Of Chicago and of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians), this most committed of saxophonists has never stopped exploring and re-thinking the place of jazz in the history of Black music, or in the history of the African-American people. Invited by the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art to create an original work for the exhibition The Freedom Principle: Experiments In Art And Music, 1965 To Now, which celebrated the musical and artistic orientations put into action by the AACM in the South Side of Chicago, here he records the path of a demanding, but exciting adventure. With Bells For The South Side, Roscoe Mitchell brings together, for the first time, musicians from his four trios: James Fei and William Winant, Hugh Ragin and Tyshawn Sorey, Craig Taborn and Kikanju Baku, Jaribu Shahid and Tani Tabbal. Now 76, the saxophonist has released a work which is not for everyone. An ode to liberty that lasts over two hours, anything but rehearsed, and which gives up its secrets when we take the time to appreciate its density. © MZ/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released March 29, 2019 | Wide Hive Records

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Jazz - Released January 11, 1999 | ECM

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Jazz - Released March 27, 2007 | ECM

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Jazz fusion & Jazz rock - Released December 21, 2004 | Mutable Music

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Jazz - Released March 12, 2013 | Wide Hive Records

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Jazz - Released September 8, 2017 | Wide Hive Records

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Jazz - Released November 5, 2010 | ECM

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1997 | Delmark

Avant-garde pioneer Roscoe Mitchell performs all of the music on this two-CD set, some of it unaccompanied solos with about half of the selections using overdubbing. Mitchell is mostly heard on alto and soprano but also utilizes percussion and "little instruments" in addition to flutes. Some of the numbers are closely planned, programmed loosely with themes and plots, but there is also plenty of free-form improvising. Mitchell, a master at using silence and repetition, creates thoroughly unpredictable music that is generally quite logical in hindsight. Still, since these are sound explorations and there are plenty of violent moments, this is mostly for very open-eared listeners. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Classique - Released October 19, 2018 | Delmark

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1995 | Delmark

Since Roscoe Mitchell (who on this set made his return to the Delmark label after 28 years) is best known as a free jazz pioneer and a longtime member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the straightahead nature of a few of the selections will surprise some of his followers. "Walking in the Moonlight" is a sly and witty strut, "Jeremy" a melodic ballad for the leader's flute and "Hey Donald" could have come from the Sonny Rollins songbook. But Mitchell has not forsaken his innovative style. On "Dragons" his soprano playing (with its circular breathing) sounds very African, there are four free duets with bassist Malachi Favors and the blowouts on "Song for Rwanda" and "See You at the Fair" are pretty adventurous. In general Mitchell (who is joined by a versatile rhythm section comprised of pianist Jodie Christian, bassist Favors and drummer Tootie Heath) saves the more boppish pieces for his tenor while on soprano his intense sound creates a drone effect reminiscent a bit of bagpipes. All in all his release for Delmark should keep listeners guessing. © Scott Yanow /TiVo

Jazz - Released December 28, 1993 | Black Saint

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Jazz fusion & Jazz rock - Released December 21, 2004 | Mutable Music

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Blues - Released January 1, 1999 | Delmark

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Jazz - Released March 27, 2020 | Wide Hive Records

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Classique - Released April 10, 2013 | Mutable Music

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Jazz - Released April 21, 2009 | Katalyst

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Jazz - Released May 23, 2000 | MMC Recordings

Rock - Released June 1, 1995 | Lovely Music

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Roscoe Mitchell in the magazine