Roscoe Mitchell is one of the most important composer-jazz instrumentalist-improvisers of our time as well as a major musical thinker, educator and conceptualist. A leader in the field of avant-garde jazz and contemporary music, he is well known as a founding member of Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and the founder of one of jazz’s most recognized groups: The Art Ensemble of Chicago. In addition to his mastery of the saxophone, he is an innovator in the use of collage techniques, repetition, silence, noise, and the AEC’s specialty “little instruments”: recorder, harmonica, whistle, and a range of small percussives like gourds and bells. Mitchell, along with his colleagues in the Chicago-based AACM particularly Anthony Braxton and Leo Smith, took the next step from the innovations of first-generation Free Jazz (Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor and Albert Ayler). Mitchell has recorded over 100 albums and has written hundreds of compositions. His compositions range from classical to contemporary, from wild and forceful free jazz to ornate chamber music. When relying on structural and formal jazz conventions, Mitchell can often come off as stilted and unswinging. On the other hand, his forays into free-time, nontonal improvisation (both structured and unstructured) are as spontaneous and as emotionally satisfying as the best jazz. He's at once a patient and impulsive improviser, prone to alternating episodes of order and chaos, clarity and complexity. At his most lyrical, Mitchell's saxophone lines exploit the instrument's strength as an interval-making machine. Whether playing soft or loud, slow or fast, Mitchell's playing is invariably suffused with passion and intensity.
20 October Universal Hall, 20:00