Drummer and composer Mike Reed has been quietly carving a very distinctive niche for himself in the creative and competitive Chicago jazz scene. On this album he was trying to find an ensemble that could perform what he calls "collective arranging" where the whole group would be responsible for the development of the music. Bringing in his Loose Assembly group with Josh Abrams on bass, Jason Adasiewicz on vibraphone, Tomeka Reid on cello and Greg Ward on alto saxophone, he then added a ringer in the form of jazz legend Roscoe Mitchell on alto and soprano saxophone and flute. After a single rehearsal, the group recorded live at the 2009 Umbrella Music Festival.The first lengthy selection, "Empathetic Parts" evolves dynamically like a suite, moving from faster deeper sections to spacier slow ones. It's the colors that the musicians are able to call forth that is the key to the success of the music. With vibes and cello shimmering along the edges and then diving into the thick of it, the music has a lot of possibility that is explored in a thirty plus minute performance. Reed's collective arranging structure works very well, allowing musicians to interpret the music in whatever structure they see fit, and to break out into smaller groups and solo configurations that offer the performers the maximum amount of freedom within the musical structure. It's a very impressive performance that plays to the strengths of all involved. Steve McCall's "I'll Be Right Here Waiting" is played as an encore, slowly developing a great emotional resonance that is patiently brought to the music and underscored by the passionate lengths the musicians go to collaborate. This is very exciting spontaneous art of a very high order, and as it has done since jazz began, it shows that Chicago based and associated musicians remain at the forefront of progressive jazz. Empathetic Parts - amazon.com
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