Dedicated to the memory of Tony Marsh
The recordings on this double LP are taken from the first night of Roscoe Mitchell's inaugural two day residency at Cafe OTO in 2012 and his first time playing with drummer Tony Marsh and double bassist John Edwards.
It was one of those nights where the music electrifies the room. Everyone on edge. Everything alive with the possibilities.
Although there was much talk after the concert of the group playing together again this would sadly be the first and last time the trio would play. Tony passed away unexpectedly just a few weeks later making this his last documented performance and a fitting tribute to a truly great drummer and percussionist.
Roscoe Mitchell is one of the most important saxophonists and composers of the 20th Century. Active since the 1960s as a bandleader, mentor, collaborator and teacher. Mitchell was a founding member of Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and the legendary Art Ensemble of Chicago. He has been a pivotal figure in the collective re-imagining of what is possible in jazz, improvisation and beyond combining an instantly recognisable sound on the saxophone with staggering technique (check the lengthy stretch of sustained circular breathing on SIDE C) and an arresting, fractured melodic sensibility.
On this date he quickly realised he was in the company of two musicians who could match his vision and create music that is more than the sum of its parts.
John Edwards is a vital presence in London's creative music community. A true virtuoso, his staggering range of techniques and boundless musical imagination have redefined the possibility of the double bass and dramatically expanded its role.
No one else played or plays drums like Tony Marsh. Richard Williams had previously described Tony's "marvelous ability to erase the boundary between time and no-time" and here, on the jerry-rigged suspended percussion set-up he'd developed (no kick or hi-hats) he opens up a beautifully resonant space, quietly directing the pulse whilst allowing you to fully hear the upper-register harmonic detail and flickering pizzicato of John Edward's bass. You'd be hard pressed to hear anything in the playing that would hint at his shock passing only a month later.
"Listen closely, take a chance, keep going even if money's tight, and you'll find the real reward – that's why Tony was hip in the most meaningful sense … And he didn't need to play loud, or be loud, to get that intensity. It's like splitting diamonds or something. If you know exactly the right place to make the impact, you don't need to hit anything hard." - Evan Parker (Quoted in John Fordham's Obituary for Marsh)
"... The rigor on display puts this music on a footing with Mitchell’s heaviest solo and ensemble dates ... A fitting tribute to the late Tony Marsh as well as an extraordinary meeting between English and American originals, these bare bones Improvisations are among the essential recent works in Roscoe Mitchell’s catalog." –Clifford Allen, Our Point of Departure
First pressing: 630 copies
Two colour screen-print sleeve designed by Oliver Pitt and printed on archival quality card stock by Heavyrock Screenprinting. High quality 180g vinyl pressing at Record Industry, The Netherlands.
Recorded by James Dunn & John Chantler at Cafe OTO, 9th March 2012.
Mixed by John Chantler.
Mastered by Andreas [LUPO] Lubich at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin.
Digital Download available as 320k MP3 or 16bit FLAC.
One of the top saxophonists to come out of Chicago's AACM movement of the mid-'60s, Roscoe Mitchell is a particularly strong and consistently adventurous improviser long associated with the Art Ensemble of Chicago. After getting out of the military, Mitchell led a hard bop sextet in Chicago (1961) which gradually became much freer.
He was a member of Muhal Richard Abrams's Experimental Band and a founding member of the AACM in 1965. Mitchell's monumental Sound album (1966) introduced a new way of freely improvising, utilizing silence as well as high energy and "little instruments" as well as conventional horns. Lester Bowie and Malachi Favors were on that date and Mitchell's 1967 follow-up Old/Quartet.
With the addition of Joseph Jarman and Philip Wilson (who was later succeeded by Famoudou Don Moye), the Art Ensemble of Chicago was born. The colorful unit was one of the most popular groups in the jazz avant-garde and Mitchell was an integral part of the band. Roscoe Mitchell (who, in addition to his main horns, plays clarinet, flute, piccolo, oboe, baritone and bass saxophones) also was involved in individual projects through the years and has recorded as a leader for Delmark, Nessa, Sackville, Moers Music, 1750 Arch, Black Saint, Cecma and Silkheart in settings ranging from large ensembles to unaccompanied solo concerts. -- Scott Yanow, All-Music Guide
John Edwards is a true virtuoso whose staggering range of techniques and boundless musical imagination have redefined the possibility of the double bass and dramatically expanded its role, whether playing solo or with others. Perpetually in demand, he has played with Evan Parker, Sunny Murray, Derek Bailey, Joe McPhee, Lol Coxhill, Peter Brötzmann, Mulatu Astatke and many others.
"I think John Edwards is absolutely remarkable: there’s never been anything like him before, anywhere in jazz." - Richard Williams, The Blue Moment
Tony Marsh was a vital presence in London's improvised music scene right up until his shock passing in April 2012. He played regularly with Evan Parker, John Edwards, Paul Dunmall, Nick Stevens, The London Improvisers Orchestra and many others as well as making an understated but essential contribution to dates with visiting musicians including Peter Brötzmann, Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith and Roscoe Mitchell. The Guardian's Richard Williams nails it when he descibes Tony's "marvelous ability to erase the boundary between time and no-time" and "an exquisite feeling for percussive texture".