Last month 2015 (huh?). c-c-celebrated savant & seasoned Free/Avant Jazz colossus Roscoe Mitchell (acting here as a performer, composer, conductor, situational stimulant, protagonist placement, conceptualist) leads an inimitable cabal of barely plausible super-cretins into mythic metamorph & medley. the occasion? The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (that’s AACM to you cuddles) 50th anniversary. Location – Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, basement stage & exhibition area (so three totally separate & varying performances, captured here on two discs). The label – ECM Records….& the personnel? Tani Tabbal on drums/percussion, James Fei on analogue Electronics & reeds, Tyshawn Sorey on drums/trombone/piano, Hue Ragin on trumpet, Jaribu Shahid on various basses, Craig Taborn on piano/Electronics, William Winant on masses of percussion & bet the best of your baked bitumen – Kikanju Baku on drums & bells.
Doing descriptive justice, even as a smash-and-grab vignette, is for this album, a most harrying undertaking, as some of the recent reviews that have surfaced have demonstrated, scraping rather pathetically along the flanks of the beast’s hull & missing much of the enormities details & implications which are ground breaking in their gravity. Depth, detail & diversity, as one would imagine, with the leader & personnel roused & the dangerously aleatoric risk demanded – kinda’ gets “epic” here. Anyone that’s been paying close attention or “knows they shit” regarding Roscoe’s slew of dramatically contrasting formations & formulas in their aggregated lineage, which have undergone particularly peregrine permutations in recent years – will know that he has been consistently confounding the peaks & engineered expansive elaborations in multiple dialects (improvisation, written composition, Avant-Jazz, Orchestral cross-camo,) to degrees, complexities & intensities that blast the container off the substance off the heat-source.
Here, he decides, to cram four spectacularly distinct trio manifestations into…one sitting! Directing parts (sometimes exact, at others with low palpability, almost heurism & momentarily malleable mood-based suggestion), leaving the rest to the swell, surrendering, controlling, defending, marauding, intuiting, intemporizing… almost enacting an encyclopedic pantheon of possibilities within the sprawling warrens & wilderness of the concerned genres & the feasibilities attached. An ocean in a mustard sachet – it’s a lot to take in.
a “blow-out”? that would be too easy/predictable! & just one of the trio’s “all consuming” tracks thoroughly trounces what eleven-piece plus blow-out merchants manage to muster for full-lengths. From the Sound Ensemble double-cross, to the Angel City diagram, to the Conversations cataclysm & the Ragin-Sorey bypass, to the old AEOC percussion “cage” & troves of original Arts Ensemble equipment & gewgaws, thrown to the jackals in a carefully cogitated/utterly irrational super sonography. Rareness, hyper plurality, ultra-dichotomies & other oddness & wonder that I can’t wrestle the fimbriations round right now. Vertex vertiginous. Here & now!
Available on/by/through ECM Records as a deluxe double disk CD splaying plenty snag – https://www.ecmrecords.com/home
all photographs by Wendy L Nelson, Susanna Ronner n’ Kikanju Baku.