Monday, December 13, 2010

Roscoe Mitchell/The Note Factory - Far Side (ECM 2010)

Saxophonist and composer Roscoe Mitchell has had a long and productive career with has included long stints in the AACM and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, along with an ambitious schedule of solo works. This album reunites him with his octet The Note Factory consisting Mitchell on saxophones and flutes, Corey Wilkes on trumpet and flugelhorn, Craig Taborn and Vijay Iyer on piano, Jaribu Shahid on bass, Harrison Bankhead on bass and cello and Tani Tabbal and Vincent Davis on drums. Recorded live in Germany in 2007, the music the group creates is impressionistic and slow building and the open ended structure allows for maximum opportunity for creativity on behalf of the musicians. The open up with the lengthy suite "Far Side/Cards/Far Side" which builds from silence to cacophony over a thirty minute exploratory time period. Mitchell plays some beautifully passionate and caustic saxophone, giving the music a loud-soft dynamic. "Quintet 2007 A For Eight" has a moody and spare feel featuring bass and cello with swirling saxophone commentary. The music is patient and slow moving, with a haunted and blue feeling pervading. "Trio Four For Eight" has flute and basses prodding the music, looking for an opening before horns, bass and accenting flute develop a near classical sounding improvisation. The drummers are featured on a slow, open ended percussion solo. "Ex Lover Five" heats things up with strong saxophone producing yearning, keening wails of sound over an abstract backdrop. A strong free piano solo bubbles up, propelled by buoyant bass, before the full band returns for a fast collective conclusion. Mitchell's music is unique, drawing on jazz and classical forms along with free improvisation and melding them into a unique soundscape all his own. Patience is needed for this music, but if you meet it on its own terms it is quite rewarding. Far Side -

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