ROSCOE MITCHELL / Not Yet
William Winant (percussion): Jacob Zimmerman (alto saxophone); Dan VanHassel (piano); Eclipse Quartet; James Fei Alto Quartet; Thomas Buckner (baritone); Petr Kotik (conductor)
A monumental recording of recent concert works by Roscoe Mitchell, for solo percussion, alto saxophone & piano, string quartet, alto saxophone quartet, baritone & chamber orchestra. Recorded live at Jeannik Méquet Littlefield Concert Hall, Mills College, Oakland, CA, March 31, 2012. Live recording and mixing by Robert Shumaker assisted by James Frazier.
Since the early 1960's composer Roscoe Mitchell has been a vital force in American music. An acclaimed saxophonist, Mitchell tours regularly throughout the United States and overseas. He is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and a founder of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Recently he appeared to great critical acclaim with the Art Ensemble of Chicago and The Orchestra of the S.E.M Ensemble as soloist and composer on tours in the United States and Europe. Recent compositions include Variations and Sketches From The Bamboo Terrace for chamber orchestra (1988), Contacts, Turbulents (1986), Memoirs of A Dying Parachutist for chamber orchestra with poetry by Daniel Moore (1995), Fallen Heroes for baritone and orchestra (1998), The Bells of Fifty Ninth Street for alto saxophone and Gamelan Orchestra (2000), 59A for solo soprano saxophone (2000), and Non-Cognitive Aspects of the City (2002) with text by Joseph Jarman.
Bells for New Orleans for tubular bells and orchestra bells (8:18)
Not Yet for alto saxophone and piano (13:16)
9/9/99 with Cards for string quartet (10:23)
Nonaah for alto saxophone quartet (11:37)
Would You Wear My Eyes? for baritone and chamber orchestra (9:44)
Nonaah for chamber orchestra (11:36)
This is Roscoe Mitchell’s finest classical album yet. And, interestingly, it’s one on which his own horn playing is absent; he’s intent on fully inhabiting the role of composer. It’s no secret how a modern conceptualist gets good performances of fiercely difficult, experimental works: you get a chair in composition at a major music school, draw interested students to your side, and present concerts. Mitchell has done that as a chair of composition studies at Mills College. And his student Jacob Zimmerman does the teacher proud in the skittering, sheets-of-sound atonality of the title track (for saxophone and piano), as well as in the sax-quartet arrangement of the infamous Mitchell piece “Nonaah.” Some more senior eminences drop by to tackle a chamber orchestra version of “Nonaah,” also. When paired with the finest recorded example we have of Mitchell’s writing for string quartet (“9/9/99 with Cards”), this album becomes an essential document of a portion of the composer’s legacy. -Seth Colter Walls, eMusic