Saturday, March 25, 2017

Various Artists - 1977 - Wildflowers: Loft Jazz New York

Wildflowers: Loft Jazz New York 

Wildflowers 1: The New York Loft Jazz Sessions

A1 - Kalaparusha – Jays
        Bass, Electric Bass – Chris White
        Drums – Jumma Santos
        Tenor Saxophone – Kalaparusha (Maurice McIntyre)

A2 - Ken McIntyre – New Times
        Alto Saxophone – Ken McIntyre (Makanda)
        Congas – Andy Vega
        Percussion [Multiple] – Andrei Strobert
        Piano – Richard Harper

A3 - Sunny Murray & The Untouchable Factor – Over The Rainbow
        Alto Saxophone – Byard Lancaster
        Bass – Fred Hopkins
        Drums – Sunny Murray
        Tenor Saxophone – David Murray
        Vibraphone – Khan Jamal

B1 - Sam Rivers – Rainbows
        Bass – Jerome Hunter
        Drums – Jerry Griffin
        Soprano Saxophone – Sam Rivers

B2 - Air – Usu Dance
        Alto Saxophone – Henry Threadgill
        Bass – Fred Hopkins
        Drums, Percussion – Steve McCall

In the mid-1970s, a jazz renaissance blossomed in large New York loft spaces that the musicians had reclaimed from the depressed blocks of the trendy Soho and Noho areas. The Wildflowers sessions, originally released on Douglas on five LPs, captured performances by almost 100 musicians in numerous configurations. The recordings were made over two weekends at the most famed of the lofts, Studio Rivbea, the home and workspace of saxophonist-flutist-composer Sam Rivers and his wife, Beatrice. Rivers orchestrated the lineup, played host to patrons, and performed as well. The sessions featured many figures well-established in New York, including Rivers, drummer Andrew Cyrille, and pianist Randy Weston, but they also attracted players from the seedbed of so much African American aesthetic jazz exploration in the 1960s and '70s, Chicago.

In addition, Rivers invited to town some key players from Philadelphia and New Haven; there were several newcomers to New York, too, including, from out West, a very young David Murray. The music all had immediacy and urgency fitting to the aesthetic task at hand--to consolidate the gains of the free-jazz and New Thing movements of the 1960s. Indeed, many of the players remain key figures today in that project: Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, and Leo Smith among them. In addition to their performances, highlights of the package include Rivers's radiant meandering over his composition "Rainbow"; pianist Weston's impassioned homage to his father; and performances by important, but often under-recognized innovators, including saxophonist Ken McIntyre and pianist Dave Burrell. Here is a seminal document in American music...

Wildflowers 2: The New York Loft Jazz Sessions

A1 - Flight To Sanity – The Need To Smile
         Bass – Benny Wilson
         Congas – Don Moye
         Drums – Harold Smith
         Piano – Sonelius Smith
         Soprano Saxophone – Art Bennett
         Tenor Saxophone – Byard Lancaster
         Trumpet – Olu Dara

A2 - Ken McIntyre – Naomi
         Congas, Percussion – Andy Vega
         Flute – Ken McIntyre
         Percussion [Multiple] – Andrei Strobert
         Piano – Richard Harper

B1 - Anthony Braxton – 73°-S Kelvin
         Alto Saxophone, Clarinet, Contrabass Saxophone – Anthony Braxton
         Bass – Fred Hopkins
         Drums – Barry Altschul
         Guitar – Michael Jackson
         Piano – Anthony Davis
         Percussion – Phillip Wilson
         Trombone – George Lewis

B2 - Marion Brown – And Then They Danced
         Alto Saxophone – Marion Brown
         Bass – Jack Greg
         Congas – Jumma Santos

B3 - Leo Smith & The New Delta Ahkri – Locomotif N°6
         Alto Saxophone – Oliver Lake
         Bass – Wes Brown
         Drums – Paul Maddox, Stanley Crouch
         Piano – Anthony Davis
         Trumpet – Leo Smith

A1. Due to technical live recording problems, the beginning of "The Need To Smile" was not properly recorded. The producers felt the performance strong enough to include it with a logical beginning at the soprano saxophone solo.
B1. "73°-S Kelvin" is an excerpt of a continuous performance.
B2. "And Then They Danced" is presented here in its entirety. It fades rather than ends with applause because it was part of a continuous set where one composition followed into the next.

... Free jazz being almost synonym of Jazz during short period of late 60s-early 70s disappeared from American jazz scenes blown away by fusion.Yesterday stars trying to survive changed their music to more accessible (as Archie Shepp)or moved to Europe where free jazz stayed alive founding its niche in small clubs for years.In late 70s though American free jazz experienced some renaissance in a form of so called "loft jazz scene" - avant-garde jazz musicians activities based around New York Soho district former industrial lofts, refurbished to musicians studios. One of central such studio was Sam Rivers Studio Rivbea. Lot of concerts took a place there and some cult albums were recorded as well...

The second volume in this seminal series from the mid 70s – one that did a great job of documenting some of the formative underground playing that was happening in the New York loft scene, almost more creative work than in previous generations, thanks to a lack of commercial venues, and hence, commercial constraints on the music. Tracks include "And Then They Danced" by Marion Brown, "Locomotif" by Leo Smith, "Naomi" by Ken McIntyre, and "The Need To Smile" by a group with Byard Lancaster, Sonelius Smith, Don Moye, and Olu Dara.

Wildflowers 3: The New York Loft Jazz Sessions

A1 - Randy Weston – Portrait Of Frank Edward Weston
         Bass – Alex Blake
         Congas – Azzedin Weston
         Piano, Written-By – Randy Weston

A2 - Michael Jackson – Clarity
         Acoustic Guitar, Written-By – Michael Jackson
         Bass – Fred Hopkins
         Drums – Phillip Wilson
         Soprano Saxophone, Flute – Oliver Lake

A3 - Dave Burrell – Black Robert
         Bass – Stafford James
         Drums – Harold White
         Piano, Written-By – Dave Burrell

B1 - Abdullah – Blue Phase
         Double Bass – Rickie Evans
         Drums – Rashied Sinan
         Electric Bass – Leroy Seals
         Guitar – Mashujaa
         Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Charles Bracken
         Trumpet, Written-By – Ahmed Abdullah

B2 - Andrew Cyrille & Maono – Short Short
         Bass – Lyle Atkinson
         Drums, Written-By – Andrew Cyrille  (Rights Society: ASCAP)
         Tenor Saxophone – David Ware
         Trumpet – Ted Daniel

...The jazz of the 1970s, particularly in New York, was a vital and searching music, just as the best jazz has always been. Musicians like Sam Rivers, David Murray, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the World Saxophone Quartet, Cecil Taylor and many others worked tirelessly, expanding their tonal vocabularies and creating shimmering and brilliant soundscapes for whoever was still listening. The audiences were, indeed, smaller. But the scope of the artistic achievement was as grand as ever.

This is an astonishing document, sonically wide-open to anyone with an ear for music of the spirit. The performances are varied enough, and sequenced in such a manner, that the most palatable, groove-oriented works will draw the listener in that he or she may appreciate the more abstract, experimental works as well. This music’s vitality is timeless; these recordings should be heard by anyone with anything more than a glancing interest in jazz...

Wildflowers 4: The New York Loft Jazz Sessions

A1 - Hamiet Bluiett – Tranquil Beauty
         Baritone Saxophone, Clarinet – Hamiet Bluiett
         Bass – Juney Booth
         Drums – Charles Bobo Shaw, Don Moye
         Guitar – Billy Patterson, Butch Campbell
         Trumpet – Olu Dara

A2 - Julius Hemphill – Pensive
         Alto Saxophone – Julius Hemphill
         Cello – Abdul Wadud
         Drums – Phillip Wilson
         Guitar – Bern Nix
         Percussion – Don Moye

B1 - Jimmy Lyons – Push Pull
         Alto Saxophone – Jimmy Lyons
         Bass – Hayes Burnett
         Bassoon – Karen Borca
         Drums – Henry Maxwell Letcher

B2 - Oliver Lake – Zaki
         Alto Saxophone – Oliver Lake
         Bass – Fred Hopkins
         Drums – Phillip Wilson
         Electric Guitar – Michael Jackson

B3 - David Murray – Shout Song
         Bass – Fred Hopkins
         Drums – Stanley Crouch
         Tenor Saxophone – David Murray
         Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Olu Dara

...The common critical consensus is that the 1970s, particularly the latter half of the decade, were the historical low point for jazz in America. Very few albums survive from that era, compared with the avalanches of reissues and vault clearing box-sets of 1950s and 60s groups. Part of this is, of course, due to the short shrift granted the avant-garde by most jazz historians. The music of the so-called "New Thing," which by rote doctrine had burned itself out by 1968, in fact continued throughout the 1970s, expanding to Europe in search of audiences and growing and evolving artistically to astonishing levels of power and beauty...

The 5-LPs set Wildflowers documents one small part of this forgotten music scene. Recorded over ten days in May 1976 at Sam Rivers’s Studio RivBea, this set contains an overwhelming amount of truly beautiful jazz performances, by names recognizable to almost anyone with a serious interest in the music. Saxophonists include Sam Rivers, David Murray, David S. Ware, Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, Byard Lancaster, Oliver Lake, Jimmy Lyons, Julius Hemphill and Henry Threadgill. Drummers include Sunny Murray, Don Moye, Steve McCall, Andrew Cyrille, and Stanley Crouch. Bassist Fred Hopkins is practically omnipresent here...

Wildflowers 5: The New York Loft Jazz Sessions 

A - Sunny Murray & The Untouchable Factor – Something's Cookin'
       Alto Saxophone, Flute – Byard Lancaster
       Bass – Fred Hopkins
       Drums – Sunny Murray
       Tenor Saxophone – David Murray
       Vibraphone – Khan Jamal

B - Roscoe Mitchell – Chant
       Alto Saxophone – Roscoe Mitchell
       Drums – Don Moye
       Percussion, Drums, Saw – Jerome Cooper

...Probably most representative document of loft jazz era was this five vinyl set "Wildflowers", recorded during May 1976 at Rivbea Studio and released on tiny Douglas Records in 1977. Decades after this release received almost cult status. Each of five albums contains collection of compositions recorded by different artists...

And in the end always comes delicacy, long mantra Roscoe Mitchell's "Chant" (an exercise in marathon circular breathing that walks the line between exhilarating and fantastic)—but at the same time houses a couple of the collection's most outstanding selections.
The other highlight of the fifth vinyl, is the return of Sunny Murray and the Untouchable Factor for the 17-minute "Something's Cookin'". Beginning as a fragile web supported by Murray's cymbal whispers, the mood expands through the otherworldly plateaus spun by Jamal's vibes and a kinetic tenor/alto dialogue between Murray and Lancaster—only to finish on the spiritual edge where Hopkins' bowed levitations meet Lancaster's primordial flute... oh yes...

No self-respecting listener of free jazz should go without hearing these sessions, as they document a period in the music's history that, until now, has been severely neglected.

But, and this is very important:
The psychedelic colors of the record cover jumped out to me immediately. I loved the album art - a collage of jazz greats fronting a backdrop of New York City. It was so different...

If you find it, buy this album!

Engineer - Ron St-Germain
Mastered By - Ray Janos
Producer - Alan Douglas , Michael Cuscuna , Sam Rivers

Recorded may 14-23, 1976 at studio rivbea, 24 bond street, New York.

Wildflowers: The New York Loft Jazz Sessions Complete

By Derek Taylor

The decade of the 1970s was a turbulent time for jazz music though the uncertainty that accompanied its passage is sometimes underplayed. The revolutionary fervor for political and musical freedom which mapped much of the jazz discourse of the 60s had in many circles subsided and been supplanted by an indecision on the part of creative musicians as to where to go next. In addition, Rock music had risen to the unsurpassable position of popularity that it still maintains today and along the way it left an indelible stamp on Jazz with the arrival of Fusion. The jazz mainstream was for the most part on the commercial outs and the marketability of the music as a whole took a heavy blow with Rock?s meteoric ascendancy. Creative fires where still burning, but now along a stratified continuum that created the illusion of polarized camps, that of free jazz and Fusion.

One of the most galvanizing and important movements birthed in the 60s to successfully bridge the decade gap was the New York Loft jazz scene. Musicians and organizers operating out of the myriad of loft spaces that dotted Manhattan put the ideals of artistic independence that had been the credo of a collective consciousness during the previous decade into practice and turned their attentions inward to their own communities. In the process they created an intensely supportive environment for their craft that communicated and sustained their art through the tough times ahead. The lofts weren?t just musical venues. They quickly became vital community centers and grass roots activist enclaves as well. Musicians, dancers, visual artists and a constantly diversifying and fluctuating audience all shared in the fruits of their unifying vision.

The Wildflowers series, originally released on the Douglas label in the 1970s, is widely regarded as the seminal document of the teeming microcosm of creative energy that was a daily harvest of the lofts and it has been out of print virtually since it?s initial release. Long considered by collectors as one of the most valuable finds in the free jazz cosmology the set has finally returned to widespread circulation through Knit Classics, the new Knitting Factory reissue imprint. Virtually everything about this set from its historical significance to the stunning collection of performances it contains ensures its place as one of the most valuable reissues of the year. One glance at the lineups of many of these groups should set many creative music fans? mouths to watering.

The five original albums have been transferred onto three generously packed discs and each of the 22 tracks is carefully annotated in the accompanying liner booklet. Also included is an insightful and illuminating essay by New York-based jazz journalist Howard Mandel, but all of the packaging is in a larger sense peripheral- what matters most is the music. As the outcome of producer Alan Douglas? two-week recording stint at Studio Rivbea (a co-operative space on Bond Street managed by Sam Rivers and his wife Bea) the discs deliver a well-rounded gallery of some of the most renowned players in free jazz and creative improvised music. Throughout the performances musicians who made their mark in the 60s stand alongside their younger protégé, who have in the intervening decades since the set was first spawned become legendary figures themselves. While still others, like guitarist Michael Jackson dropped off the scene entirely. The intergenerational nature of many of the groups points again to the strong sense of community essential to the music.

One of the most unexpected aspects of the performances is the Fusion influence on several of the groups? instrumentation and sound. Electric bass and amplified guitars (and even the stray synthesizer, on Braxton?s ?73° Kelvin?) regularly crop up in the ensembles. Kalaparusha McIntyre?s turgid tenor solos atop a funky vamp supplied by supple electric bass and subtle backbeat traps on the set opening ?Jays.? Ken McInytre?s ?New Times? starts with the portentous creak of an opening door followed by opening salvos from the ensemble instruments and a rising collective theme. Rivers? own ?Rainbows? is a tour de force for his Bedouin soprano supported by the bustling rhythms of Hunter and Griffin. Hopkins heavily amplified double bass holds the anchor on Threadgill?s ?USO Dance? cleaving off thick slabs of viscous rhythmic energy before the saxophonist?s slightly off mike entrance. These sonic imperfections are rare, but even when they surface they add further to the feeling of being there in the moment when these sounds were first created. Marion Brown?s ?And Then They Danced? is another saxophone spectacle guaranteed to cause jaws to drop. Brown takes the track almost completely solo save a short closing refrain by bowed bass and conga and explores the melodic possibilities of his alto in all registers.

Discs two and three contain an equal number of memorable moments. From the unexpected appearance of Randy Weston backed by his son (?) Azzedin?s percolating conga rhythms on the beautifully conceived ?Portrait of Frank Edward Weston,? which with the tune?s title brings three generations of Westons into the musical melange. To the Ahmed Abdullah?s guitar-driven jam ?Blue Phase that sounds constantly on the verge of exploding in a confetti of African-infused voices. To the brief, but beautiful contribution from Jimmy Lyons? quartet featuring his wife Karen Borca on unwieldy bassoon, an instrument that becomes a genuine jazz voice in her capable hands. These are all offerings to treasure and return to time and again. There are a fair share of ecstatic energy blowouts like Oliver Lake?s ?Zaki,? but also an equal number of groove-driven numbers that dip judiciously into the peripheral styles of funk, soul and even on occasion give a nod to the so-called specter of Rock. Taking the ?field recording? esthetic to heart there are a handful of tracks that aren?t completely successful musically, but interesting experiments nonetheless. Mitchell?s ?Chant? a piece that stretches on for nearly a half hour and includes an opening section where the saxophonist retreads a tightly scripted figure on alto, before moving into more expansive blowing toward the close is one such example. All of the tracks offer something special and significant and the wealth inherent in this set cannot be overstated. On a myriad of levels it is a capsule of a time now past, but with strong and invaluable ties to the present and future and anyone with an interest in creative music should make it a point to check it out.

Roscoe Mitchell - 1978 - L-R-G / The Maze / S II Examples

Roscoe Mitchell 
L-R-G / The Maze / S II Examples

01. L-R-G-(Part One) 18:49
02. L-R-G-(Part Two) 17:40
03. The Maze 21:40
04. S II Examples 17:15

Roscoe Mitchell - piccolo, flute, oboe, clarinet, soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, baritone sax, bass saxophone
Wadada Leo Smith - trumpet, pocket trumpet, flugelhorn
George Lewis - sousaphone, Wagner tuba, alto trombone, tenor trombone

The Maze
Thurman Barker - drums, cow bells, conga drum, gong, glockenspiel, hand bells, marimba, slap stick, triangle, whistle
Malachi Favors - log drum, gong, balafon, cans, hand bells, shakers, seal horn, tambourine, temple gong, zither
Roscoe Mitchell - bugle glockenspiel, bicycle horns, balafon, cow bells, cymbals, conga drum, cycle sprocket, dinner chimes, dome bells, frying pans, finger cymbals, gongs, hanging bell, large swinging bell, press horn, Swiss cow bells, swinging bells, swinging Swiss cow bells, thunder sheet, tuned cymbals, temple blocks, triangles, wood blocks, wood desk, zizzle cymbals
Henry Threadgill - cymbal gongs, finger cymbals, gong, garbage can bottoms, hubkaphone, hand bells, plumbing brass, rhythm sticks, hackbrett
Joseph Jarman - A bell, balafon, bike horns, cymbals, Chinese cymbals, conga drums, chimes, cymbal rack, conch shell, drums, gongs, hand bells, marimba, tom tom, vibraphone, temple gongs
Anthony Braxton - bass drum, cymbals, glockenspiel, garbage can machine, marimba can machine, marimba, orchestra bells, sloshing can machine, snare drum, wash tub machine, xylophone
Douglas Ewart - bamboo table, cymbals, cow bells, large chimes, small chimes, door bell, gongs, hanging bells, little bells, marimba, metal xylophone, winding bell, wooden cow bell, zizzle cymbal
Don Moye - drums, balafon, cow bells, conga drums, cymbal rack, gongs, hand bells, little horns, marimba, triangle, temple gongs, wood blocks

S II Examples
Roscoe Mitchell - soprano saxophone

L-R-G recorded August 7, 1978, at Van Gelder Recording Studio.
The Maze recorded July 27, 1978, at Columbia Studios.
S II Examples recorded August 17, 1978, at Streetville Studios.

Following a successful three-year stint with the Art Ensemble of Chicago in Europe, in 1971 Mitchell came back to Chicago and moved to a farm in Bath, Michigan, just northeast of Lansing. L-R-G / The Maze / S II Examples brought sound explorations he had made in Michigan together with the earlier innovations made by the Art Ensemble. In 1976 he found a happy medium between city and country in Madison, Wisconsin. According to Chuck Nessa, who produced the album, "We spent over a year preparing for that record. I went up to Roscoe's place in Wisconsin every weekend to go over that stuff."

"L-R-G" (which stands for Leo Smith, Roscoe Mitchell and George Lewis), is a 37-minute trio for sixteen different instruments grouped by type: woodwinds (Mitchell), high brass (Smith) and low brass (Lewis). For this piece and "The Maze," Mitchell uses the term "sound collages". He took inventory of every possible sound the musicians could produce, then organized the sounds into pieces based on texture, without the restriction of fixed tempos. "L-R-G" was performed once more, not long after the album came out, at New York Public Theater.

"The Maze" is a 21-minute octet for all kinds of percussion including a lot of unconventional instruments. Mitchell used on the piece AACM stars as Anthony Braxton and Henry Threadgill to serve as percussionists, together with Art Ensemble members Don Moye, Joseph Jarman, and Malachi Favors. Chuck Nessa remembers that it took the musicians more than four hours just to set up all those instruments, but that they nailed the piece in one live take. "The Maze" would never be performed again until two decades later, when Mitchell played all three pieces from the album at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

"S II Examples" is a 17-minute exploration of multi-phonics on the curved soprano saxophone. The piece was originally designed to be played by a trio with Jarman and Braxton, but when they got together Mitchell discovered that one example that could be done in his curved soprano saxophone couldn't be played on their straight sopranos, so he decided to record it as a solo piece.

In his review for AllMusic, Dave Lewis says about the album that "is a splendidly recorded and mastered CD, and inasmuch as Roscoe Mitchell as classical composer is concerned, this is very close to where it truly starts." The Penguin Guide to Jazz says that "it's a rather bewitching set altogether, and a useful notebook on what Chicago's playing élite were looking into at the period."

Roscoe Mitchell is mostly, and rightly, reckoned with his work as a leading member of the hardscrabble, meta-instrumental, and enormously influential avant-garde jazz group Art Ensemble of Chicago. However, Mitchell also owns a considerable stake in composed music of a kind considerable as classical, which makes use of written materials to drive determinate kinds of improvisation, or even some non-improvised interpretation in the conventional sense. Mitchell's serious work in so-called "serious music" was recognized at the academic level in 2007, when Mitchell was named to the Darius Milhaud Chair of composition at Mills College in Oakland, and many writers date Mitchell's shift of focus to the 1990s when he began to work with such non-jazz, creative musicians as classically trained vocalist Thomas Buckner. However, for Mitchell, contact with classical music disciplines goes back to his very early days as a student in Germany. Nessa's LP Roscoe Mitchell/L-R-G, The Maze, S II Examples documents a period in 1978, when Mitchell was beginning to work on his composed strategies with usual suspect figures from the jazz world, some from the Art Ensemble itself.
In 1978, Michigan-based indie Nessa Records had almost exclusive access to Mitchell and his associates, as the Art Ensemble of Chicago had barely begun its association with ECM -- the first fruits of which did not appear until 1979 -- and the group was reaching the end of a five-year hiatus that also witnessed the collapse of some of the labels it recorded for. The Maze brings the entire Art Ensemble membership, minus Lester Bowie, and other free jazz luminaries such as Anthony Braxton and Henry Threadgill, to serve as percussionists. Rather than being a rattletrap barrage of percussion as one might expect, The Maze is a carefully controlled polyphonic texture of percussion sounds that is mostly vertical and moves forward in a deliberate progression. The quality of the sound in this 1978 recording is astounding, made at the 30th Street Studio belonging to CBS Records. L-R-G (i.e., "L"eo Smith, "R"oscoe Mitchell, and "G"eorge Lewis), brings this high-powered trio of improvisers into contact with an orchestra's wealth of instruments, divided by range and type: woodwinds for Mitchell, high and low brass, respectively, for Smith and Lewis. Like The Maze, this is a slowly forward-evolving catalog of special sounds; however, in this case the sounds are specific to the players involved. S II Examples, likewise, began as a trio for soprano saxophones for Mitchell, Joseph Jarman, and Anthony Braxton, but Mitchell realized his curved soprano provided him with some additional flexibility that the straight saxes favored and the others did not. So he decided to record it as a solo piece, and it is an extraordinary one; Mitchell's microcosmic understanding of gradations of tone is virtually encyclopedic, and the amount of wiggle room he has between two half steps is such that when he plays three or four "regular" notes by way of transition, it's an event.
In a superficial sense, Nessa's LP Roscoe Mitchell/L-R-G, The Maze, S II Examples does not represent a radical departure from Mitchell's work as a jazz musician, as does, say, Skies of America does for Ornette Coleman; those who follow Mitchell's work in jazz will well recognize him in comfortable voice here. Nevertheless, for listeners attuned to contemporary art music coming to Roscoe Mitchell with little or no knowledge of his work with the Art Ensemble of Chicago should likewise easily understand how his rigorous approach in organizing improvised elements fits in with the rest of the classical avant-garde. Beyond that, Nessa's vinyl Roscoe Mitchell/L-R-G, The Maze, S II Examples is a splendidly recorded, and inasmuch as Roscoe Mitchell as classical composer is concerned, this is very close to where it truly starts.

Review by Uncle Dave Lewis

Roscoe Mitchell - 1977 - Nonaah

Roscoe Mitchell 

01. Nonaah 21:52
02. Ericka 7:57
03. Nonaah 1:15
04. Off Five Dark Six 6:26
05. A1 Tal 2La 8:44
06. Tahquemnon 5:47
07. Improvisation 1 12:53
08. Ballad 4:46
09. Nonaah 17:34

Roscoe Mitchell: alto saxophone
Anthony Braxton: sopranino saxophone (Side Two track 3)
Malachi Favors: bass (Side Two track 4)
Muhal Richard Abrams: piano (Side Three track 1)
George Lewis: trombone (Side Three track 1)
Henry Threadgill: alto saxophone (Side Four track 2)
Joseph Jarman: alto saxophone (Side Four track 2)
Wallace McMillan: alto saxophone (Side Four track 2)

2008 Reissue:

101. Nonaah 22:39
102. Ericka 8:15
103. Nonaah 1:24
104. Off Five Dark Six 4:53
105. A1 Tal 2La 8:46
106. Tahquemenon 5:47

201. Improvisation 1 13:13
202. Ballad 4:43
203. Nonaah 17:46
204. Sing 6:12
205. Improvisation 2 3:42
206. Sing 7:42
207. Chant 9:15
208. Off Five Dark Six 7:23

Tracks 1.1-1.3: live in Willisau, Switzerland, August 23, 1976.
Tracks 2.1, 2.6-2.8: live in Mapenzi, Berkeley, January 15, 1977
Tracks 1.4, 1.6: Chicago, January 17, 1977.
Track 2.3: Chicago, January 22, 1977.
Tracks 1.5, 2.2, 2.4, 2.5: Chicago, February 22, 1977.

One of the significant things that set AACM music apart from its brethren in New York in the 1960s and early 1970s was its use of space, of opening up the music so that things could occur within broad, environmental relationships. That sense of space was very important. In an entirely different take on "energy" music, the challenge of discerning what could be perceived as multiple, self-contained orbits was uniquely gratifying. To listeners weaned on the intervallic leaps of reed player Eric Dolphy and the ringing "wrong" notes of pianist Thelonious Monk, and the areas of quietude and vastness made perfect sense in the early music of reed players Roscoe Mitchell and Anthony Braxton.

On first hearing, Mitchell's Nonaah turns the perceived spaciousness of AACM-music on its end. Gone are the silences punctuated by little instruments or brief, anguished saxophone squalls that seemed to recoil as quickly as they appeared. Nonaah was something else entirely, an exorcism of the alto saxophone as much as putting the instrument through its paces. Released in 1977 on Nessa Records as part of a continual and tireless documentation of the music of the AACM, starting with Lester Bowie's Numbers 1 & 2 (Nessa, 1967), Nonaah consisted of a double vinyl set including solo alto saxophone, a saxophone quartet, duos with saxophonist Anthony Braxton and bassist Malachi Favors, and a trio with pianist Muhal Richard Abrams and trombonist George Lewis. Now on CD for the first time, this set adds five additional alto solos.

"Nonaah" itself is represented in both solo and quartet versions. The solo, which opens disc one, comes from a 1976 Wilisau concert, and lasts just over a half hour (including eight minutes of the Joseph Jarman composition "Ericka"). The title piece was previously referenced on the Art Ensemble of Chicago's Bap-tizum (Atlantic, 1972) and Mitchell's Solo Saxophone Concerts (Sackville, 1973), but this is its fullest explication. The piece begins with a jagged eight-note phrase, with its last note being held in gradually longer intervals. Each attack of the phrase itself becomes more distorted, each repetition goading the audience into a mixture of cheers and guffaws at some of the most naked saxophone playing they'd probably ever heard. At about five minutes in, the held tone becomes smeared, bent, and torqued; Mitchell begins rushing the phrase and the key becomes ambiguous. It is a furious troweling of hard ground—of forcing a very contained phrase into malleability and to either give up its fruits or die trying.

At nine minutes, Mitchell has exhausted this phrase, torqued it into recognizable but worked-over fragments. Here he moves on to the form of a plaintive ballad, running his keyed, reeded fingers over a delicate line, an insect with feelers for sound. Seemingly trepid, the intervals he's working with are incredibly vast, from low, velvety purrs to high-pitched, rounded pops. The next movement is faster, harsher and high-volume, buzzing and metallic. It seems to cull its language from both the original theme and the ballad portion, and is resoundingly physical—one can feel Mitchell's body contorting along with the phrases he's building up and tearing apart. One wants to say this is staunchly avant-garde music, and it is, but it's not without the trilled leaps of saxophonists Charlie Parker and Lester Young, the smoky, crushed fabric of a swing player, or the searing honk of R&B.

Jarman's staple "Ericka" is a ballad of extraordinary depth and beauty; Mitchell approaches it with warmth, stateliness and whimsy. His solo is full of curlicues, lines rushing down the staircase, and blurs in which notes pop out like flickers of light. By the end of the piece, Mitchell has found his way to clenched air and popping veins, energy being bottled and trying to escape both at once.

In January of 1977, Mitchell brought saxophonists Jarman, Wallace McMillan and Henry Threadgill together for a seventeen-minute saxophone quartet recording of the title piece. As the final work on the original double album, it marked an expanded exploration of the materials on side one. Operating at what appear to be slightly different intervals, the first movement is rendered like a rickety string quartet, clearly intertwined but operating with a logic that's distressingly internal. There's a bounce to it akin to a Steve Lacy piece gone horribly awry or a player piano stuck on repeat. The second section sounds lush, reminscent of Duke Ellington in its colorful expanse and woody timbres (you could almost swear there are a cello and violin present). Delicate measures and caressed intervals become brilliant orchestral floes, hints of saxophonist Johnny Hodges bringing the section to a unison close. To hear the contrasts between pointillist, scrabbling jounce and tone poem is something more pronounced in the quartet, proof (as if one needs it) of an excavating process leading to a compositional plenum.

Nonaah is extraordinarily confrontational music—it presents instrument, composer and materials in a profoundly naked light. Perhaps more important than opening up one's preconceptions about the saxophone, it also complicates the AACM aesthetic and vision. Rather than providing space, this is incredibly dense music, bristling with tension that is not overcome by ecstatic release. Nonaah is about as direct as one can get and, lest one forget, the music of Mitchell, Abrams, Jarman, Braxton and their cohorts is rebellious to this day.

Article about Noonah hat you must read:

Roscoe Mitchell Quartet - 1975 - Quartet

Roscoe Mitchell Quartet

01. Tnoona 6:42
02. Music For Trombone And B? Soprano 14:35
03. Cards 10:00
04. Olobo 9:42

Roscoe Mitchell - B flat soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax
Muhal Richard Abrams - piano
George Lewis - trombone
Spencer Barefield - guitar

Recorded in concert at A Space, Toronto on the 4th
and 5th of October 1975.

The album documents a two nights performance promoted by saxophonist and journalist Bill Smith, co-founder of Sackville Records, at A Space, an artist-run gallery in downtown Toronto.

The quartet is a chamber-like ensemble composed of Mitchell, pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, co-founder of the AACM, trombonist George Lewis, a 23-year-old in his debut recording, and Detroit-native guitarist Spencer Barefield.

Mitchell is strongly associated with the influence of "classical" avant-garde, both European and American. If the Art Ensemble of Chicago formed a key part of Mitchell's expression, this band and later versions of their Sound Ensemble would permite him to emphasize the purely sonic interest of his earlier work.

Mitchell recorded the piece "Tnoona" previously with the Art Ensemble of Chicago in 1973 for the Fanfare for the Warriors album, where Abrams was also present. "Music For Trombone & B Flat Soprano" is a duo credited to Lewis. "Cards", a piece in which each player is given six cards with musical notation that can be arranged in any order and any tempo, demonstrates Mitchell's interest in chance procedures and the radical dismantling of form in the manner of John Cage. "Olobo" is performed as a trombone solo by Lewis.

In 2013 Delmark Records, which purchased the catalog of the Sackville label, reissued the album under the title Live at "A Space" 1975 augmented with 20 minutes of previously unissued material.[4] The four bonus tracks include a reading of John Coltrane's classic ballad Naima with an extensive prelude, and a short ensemble version of his signature piece "Nonaah", which Mitchell originally wrote as a solo saxophone before the Art Ensemble played it also for Fanfare for the Warriors.

In his review for AllMusic, Brian Olewnick states about the original album "Roscoe Mitchell Quartet is a long-neglected minor classic and well worth hearing"[5] The All About Jazz review by Hrayr Attarian says about the Delmark reissue that "listening to this exquisite disc is, without a doubt, demanding but it is also a rewarding and thrilling aural and intellectual ride.

Live at "A Space" 1975 (Delmark CD reissue)

01. Prelude to Naima 9:00
02. Naima 2:29
03. Tnoona 6:46
04. Music for Trombone & B Flat Soprano 14:34
05. Cards9:58
06. Olobo 9:38
07. Dastura 5:55
08. Nonaah 2:12

Roscoe Mitchell - B flat soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax
Muhal Richard Abrams - piano
George Lewis - trombone
Spencer Barefield - guitar

Only the most modern of listeners will be able to get with this 38-year-old music. Its barriers to entry are extreme. It comes from two nights in 1975 at A Space, an artist-run gallery in downtown Toronto which, in 2013, is still open for business. Four of the eight tracks were released on the Canadian Sackville label, on LP in 1976 and on CD in 2002; four tracks are previously unissued. The band is Roscoe Mitchell (reeds); George Lewis, a 23-year-old in his debut recording (trombone); Muhal Richard Abrams (piano) and Spencer Barefield (guitar).

In 1975, Mitchell’s primary affiliation was the Art Ensemble of Chicago. The quartet at A Space has more in common with the European and American classical avant-garde. Lewis’ blats in the right channel sound entirely disassociated from Mitchell’s chirps in the left. It is startling when seemingly random utterances coincide and the two arrive at rough unisons. Barefield does not “play” the guitar but occasionally inserts motivational strums or vivid configurations of color. Abrams is the voice of reason, picking his spots, spilling beautiful, comprehensible effusions between and around Mitchell and Lewis.

In these stark sonic landscapes, there are almost no melodic or harmonic or rhythmic plotting points. Most of the whirring and murmuring on “Tnoona” cannot even be identified by instrument. Yet there are moments of epiphany, when irrational gestures, emerging from silence, gain access to previously inaccessible regions of the subconscious. Some of the experiments fail: “Olobo” simply lays there, inert, an interminable 10-minute trombone solo.

The first two tracks, new to the world, are valuable discoveries. “Prelude to Naima” contains fragments of Coltrane’s song, dramatically slowed to an episodic nine-minute contemplation, outside time. It dawns like breaking light when it becomes, for three minutes, the actual “Naima,” rapt and obsessed.

The Canadian label Sackville released a series of exceptional albums throughout its forty plus year existence. A fair number of these document free-jazz concerts by American luminaries that took place in its hometown of Toronto. When the company folded, Chicago based Delmark purchased its Avant-Garde catalogue and has released expanded versions of these records on CD.

One such gem is reedman Roscoe Mitchell's Live At 'A Space' 1975 now augmented with 20 minutes of previously unissued material. Mitchell, known for his association with the groundbreaking quartet, Art Ensemble Of Chicago and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) leads an inspired quartet in front of an appreciative audience.

An improviser par excellence Mitchell is, and has always been, a contemplative and sophisticated instrumentalist. The most melodic track, "Dastura" features his haunting saxophone blowing wistfully over Detroit guitarist A. Spencer Barefield's classically influenced, single notes and strums. The deft utilization of silent pauses during this intense and intimate spontaneous duet brings a sense of mystical poetry to the dialogue.

Barefield's otherworldly sound swells reverberate on "Troona," a tension filled piece with an expectant ambience. Mitchell's melancholic honks, pianist Muhal Richard Abrams' chiming keys and trombonist George Lewis' sputtering horn join in to create a dramatic and intriguingly atonal symphony of sorts.

This is Lewis' debut recording and he is already a mature and inventive player. His unaccompanied, ten-minute long extemporization on "Olobo" has him expressively exploring the entire range of his instrument, not only musically but also stylistically. Abrams' demonstrates his trademark progressive angularity on a passionate and unfettered cascade of piano lines on "Prelude to Naima." This is followed by saxophonist John Coltrane's classic "Naima" that Lewis and Mitchell play in unison, like a somber dirge.

Listening to this exquisite disc is, without a doubt, demanding but it is also a rewarding and thrilling aural and intellectual ride. The superb sound remastering enhances the experience of rediscovering this historic session.

Roscoe Mitchell - 1975 - Old / Quartet

Roscoe Mitchell
Old / Quartet

01. Old 8:09
02. Quartet Part 1 19:40
03. Quartet Part 2 18:03
04. Solo 5:34

Bass – Malachi Favors
Drums – Phillip Wilson
Saxophone [Alto, Soprano], Clarinet, Flute – Roscoe Mitchell
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Lester Bowie

Old recorded May 18, 1967.
Quartet recorded May 19, 1967.
Solo recorded November 25, 1967.

Recorded in the year prior to his groundbreaking Congliptious but not released until 1975, Old Quartet captures the Roscoe Mitchell Art Ensemble (which would later coalesce into the Art Ensemble of Chicago) on a clear pathway toward the later album's majestic heights. In fact, it leads off with "Old," which closed the other album, and this performance is arguably superior both in its greater expansiveness and in Lester Bowie's incredibly poised trumpet work. That they slightly flub the ending (and joke about it) only adds to the relaxed air of the piece. "Quartet" is in two lengthy parts, and is a loose, somewhat rambling exploration that anticipates the title track from Congliptious less, perhaps, than it does Mitchell's quasi-narrative epic "The Spiritual" from two year later. The amount of freedom already at hand in 1967 is breathtaking, however. The group never meanders aimlessly; each little sound or moment of silence contributes to the flow. Vocal hums, whistles, harmonica tootles, and struck bells share equal footing with the more "traditional" instruments. Early on, Mitchell had realized that "free jazz" didn't only mean screaming at the top of one's lungs; there was room for quiet. The group would mature greatly over the next year, but all the seeds are clearly here. The album ends with a solo performance by Mitchell, augmenting his alto with bells, harmonica, and percussion. It's almost frightening how he's able to seesaw between delicate, music box-like melodies and the most harrowing slabs of sonic assault possible. As of 2002, Old Quartet was available on disc only as part of a wonderful limited-edition five-CD box set, The Art Ensemble 1967/68 on Nessa. While perhaps a small step below Congliptious, it is nonetheless a beautiful album in its own right and one that ranks very high in Roscoe Mitchell's discography.

Roscoe Mitchell - 1974 - The Solo Concert

Roscoe Mitchell 
The Solo Concert

01. Nonaah 1:20
02. Tutankamen 7:00
03. Enlorfe 2:54
04. Jibbana 4:51
05. Eeltwo (Part One) 2:53
06. Eeltwo (Part Two) 6:23
07. Oobina (Little Big Horn) 4:38
08. Ttum 8:56
09. Nonaah 1:28

Roscoe Mitchell - soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, bass sax

A5, B1 recorded at Kalamazoo, Michigan. October 22, 1973
A1 to A4, B2, B3 recorded at Montreal, Quebec. November 2, 1973
B4 recorded at Pori International Jazz Festival, Finland. July 12, 1974

Roscoe Mitchell is a founding member of The Art Ensemble of Chicago and has only had occasional dates as a leader through the years. This is one of his most rewarding although listeners accustomed to full rhythm sections and conventional swinging might find this one hard to get into. Mitchell proves to be a brilliant architect of sound, frequently building up a simple idea to unimagined heights of complexity. Performing on soprano, alto, tenor and bass saxophones at the three festivals at which this music is taken from, Roscoe Mitchell demonstrates why he is considered one of the masters of avant-garde jazz. This solo set is only topped by his 1976-77 Nessa recording Nonaah.

Roscoe Mitchell's CD The Solo Concert is actually culled from several different performances in the mid-'70s, done in Kalamazoo, MI, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and Pori, Finland. Though the famous front cover photo taken by Coda Magazine's Bill Smith depicts Mitchell with his arsenal of woodwinds including flute and clarinets, he only plays alto, soprano, tenor, and bass saxophones. The variety of sounds he is able to extract from his horns has always been remarkable, but there's a refined restraint and held-in dynamics heard on many of these spontaneous compositions and thematic improvisations. Playing solo was new for Mitchell at this time, and he's resplendent on his legendary, spiky, tongued, minute-plus improvisation on his favored alto sax for "Nonaah," which bookends the program from Montreal and Pori respectively. "Ttum," from the Montreal performance, really emphasizes why the alto is the one that reflects his personal voice, in a patient dialect that is continually surprising, overblown one moment or sweet the next. Also on alto, "Enlorfe" is a tribute to John Coltrane on the horn he started out with professionally (see Dizzy Gillespie's "Dee Gee Days,") using tiny, slightly strained notes. The imposing, deep, and mid-range bass saxophone is utilized on the modal, extrapolated blues (sic) "Tutankamen," the Malachi Favors composition adopted by Mitchell and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. A two-part piece, "Eeltwo," done in Kalamazoo, has a resonant tenor saxophone singing in a tone reminiscent of vocalist Billy Eckstine, using the upper register as garnish, employing a lilting refrain, or running scales effortlessly. The soprano sax comes out during "Jibbana" in varying dynamics, blurts, and whispers, while "Oobina" has Mitchell switching back and forth from bass to soprano, exploring all timbres and volume levels. This is a reissue of an original recording from the Sackville company which preceded the Nessa label magnum opus Nonaah by two years, but that album also included duets. So this is the first, greatest, and premier solo recording by Roscoe Mitchell that has to go down as one of his all-time best, and a prime example of how to stand alone, unafraid of any preconceived notions in how modern jazz should sound or be performed.

Roscoe Mitchell Art Ensemble - 1968 - Congliptious

Roscoe Mitchell Art Ensemble

01. Tutankhamen - Bass Solo 6:38
02. Tkhke - Alto Saxophone Solo 6:58
03. Jazz Death? - Trumpet Solo 7:19
04. Congliptious / Old 19:28

Bass, Electric Bass – Malachi Favors
Drums – Robert Crowder
Saxophone [Alto, Soprano, Bass], Flute, Recorder – Roscoe Mitchell
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Horns [Steer Horn], Bass Drum – Lester Bowie

Side A recorded 4 March 1968.
Side B recorded 11 March 1968.

Congliptious is a landmark recording of modern jazz, an extraordinarily strong and creative album and one that, among other things, perfectly encapsulates the ideals of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians). One of the graduation requirements of students in the AACM was to be able to pull off a solo recital on whatever their instrument happened to be. In the late '60s, the idea of an evening-length solo performance on saxophone or drums, for example, was unheard of. The first three cuts on Congliptious are solos for bass, alto saxophone, and trumpet that not only stand on their own as powerful statements, but also mark out several of the conceptual territories near and dear to this organization's heart. In "Tutankhamen," bassist Malachi Favors pays homage to the deep past, his rich arco delving into a theme older than the blues, but always keeping the blues in mind. Roscoe Mitchell's "Tkhke" remains, more than three decades later, incredibly alive and corrosive, reaching the furthest limits of his instrument, harrowing yet tightly controlled. Only when it resolves into a placid near lullaby does the listener dare exhale. Humor was another constant element in the work of these Chicagoans, rarely better expressed than by the late Lester Bowie in his historic soliloquy, "Jazz Death?" Posing as both unctuous interviewer and sly interviewee, Bowie wends his way through virtually the entire history of jazz trumpet with affection, soulful beauty, and a sardonic glance or two. The side-long "Congliptious/Old" is a masterpiece in breadth of conception and execution, an exemplar of the newly drawn lines distinguishing chaos from order. The trio is joined by drummer Robert Crowder, who leads things off in march tempo before dissembling into a maelstrom of percussion and the "little instruments" beloved by these musicians. The piece ebbs and flows, traveling from thunderous explosions to childlike songs to abstract vocal exhortations (including the timely phrase, "Sock it to me!"), but always retaining a sense of the blues. That aura comes into sublime fruition in the closing section, "Old," where Mitchell has written a theme as timeless as its title, an utterly gorgeous tune with roots in New Orleans dirges and beyond, which the quartet takes out with gusto, aplomb, and -- again -- a devilish humor. As of 2002, Congliptious was only available on disc as part of a limited-edition five-CD box set on Nessa (The Art Ensemble 1967/68). However the listener gets hold of it, it is one of the single most vital recordings of the jazz avant-garde, and an album of unique beauty.

Leroy Jenkins - 1981 - Lifelong Ambitions

Leroy Jenkins 
Lifelong Ambitions

01. Greetings And Salutations 6:29
02. Meditation 6:26
03. Happiness 6:38
04. The Blues 6:37
05. The Weird World 6:28
06. The Father, The Son, The Holy Ghost 6:25

Leroy Jenkins
Muhal Richard Abrams

Leroy Jenkins, free jazz's greatest violinist, has always worked best in intimate situations with equally talented partners. He certainly had the optimum conditions on this duet date pairing him with outstanding pianist, composer, arranger, and conductor Muhal Richard Abrams. The duo played six Jenkins compositions for the session, which was recorded live. Abrams and Jenkins frequently alternate roles, letting each other set the pace, never colliding, and forging a highly effective musical partnership. Jenkins' whiplash lines, percussive effects and seamless blend of free and blues influences was capably contrasted by Abrams' driving, soulful piano phrases and solos.
There's a patient, almost schoolmasterly side to Abrams playing. Jenkins moves off into pan-tonality a few times, but he stays firmly anchored in an identifiable key for most of the set.

George Lewis - 1978 - George Lewis

George Lewis 
George Lewis

01. Monads
02. Triple Slow Mix
03. Cycle
04. Shadowgraph, 5 (Sextet)

Piano – Muhal Richard Abrams
Bass Clarinet – Douglas Ewart
Cello – Abdul Wadud
Piano – Anthony Davis
Soprano Saxophone – Roscoe Mitchell
Trombone [Alto And Tenor] – George Lewis
Violin – Leroy Jenkins

Trombonist and composer George Lewis studied his crafts with Dean Hey and Muhal Richard Abrams. Lewis' compositions and improvisations are found on over 80 recordings, and he has performed with such musicians, composers, and improvisers as Steve Lacy, Anthony Braxton, Count Basie, Derek Bailey, and John Zorn. A Yale University philosophy graduate, Lewis has been a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since the '70s. His residencies include IRCAM (Paris), STEIM (Amsterdam), and Alberta's Banff Centre for the Arts. Lewis has been an NEA Fellow, was hosted as Visiting Artist by the Art Institute of Chicago, and curated the music program of New York's The Kitchen Center. Lewis also programmed interactive music systems for computers, has lectured at computed art workshops, and has worked as a computer installation artist, with interactive installations shows at Paris' Musee de la Villette, in Boston, and Chicago.

This 1978 album contains: "Monads" for an ensemble (with Anthony Davis, piano; Douglas Ewart, bass clarinet; Leroy Jenkins, violin; G. Lewis, alto and tenor trombones; Roscoe Mitchell, soprano sax; Abdul Wadud, cello) ...fleeting melodic fragments amidst pointillistic (but not "abstract" !) textures, constantly re-defined and varied; "Triple Slow Mix," a trio for two pianos and sousaphone ...a steady and slowly varied bass passacaglia surrounded by either extremely fast pointillistic playing or banal almost-quotes as if from music "literature," like a blasé music student in his practice room just trying to make it through the day...every once in a while someone shouts "hey !" "Cycle" (with Lewis on Moog synthesizer)...humorous and touching solos of mid-range sounds, you smile and you don't know why; "Shadowgraph, 5 (Sextet)" for the previous large ensemble, also with Muhal Richard Abrams, piano, and G. Lewis also on sound-tube ...someone near us is explaining something but we don't quite get it ...perhaps it's something "foreign" ...a tapestry of gestures, quick shadows of the initial event.

Creative Construction Company - 1977 - Creative Construction Company Vol. 2

Creative Construction Company 
Creative Construction Company Vol. 2

01. No More White Gloves – Part I (With Sand Under Your Shoes Doing A Dance) 17:30
02. No More White Gloves – Part II (With Sand Under Your Shoes Doing A Dance) 16:58

Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute, Chimes [Orchestral] – Anthony Braxton
Bass – Richard Davis
Drums, Percussion – Steve McCall
Piano, Cello, Clarinet – Muhal Richard Abrams
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, French Horn, Horn [Seal], Percussion – Leo Smith
Violin, Viola, Recorder, Xylophone [Toy], Harmonica, Horn [Bicycle] – Leroy Jenkins

Recorded at Washington Square Methodist Church (Peace Church NYC).

Classic Chicago avant garde jazz, recorded at Peace Church New York by Ornette Coleman in 1970, and featuring Leroy Jenkins, Anthony Braxton, Leo Smith, Richard Davis, Steve McCall, and Muhal Richard Abrams. The whole LP's one long track called "No More White Gloves", and the sound is a perfect summation of the direction the AACM was heading in the 70's, while still be an excellent example of the work that they did in the 60's.

Creative Construction Company - 1976 - Creative Construction Company

Creative Construction Company
Creative Construction Company

01. Muhal (Part I)
02. Muhal (Part II) / Live Spiral

Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute, Wind Chimes – Anthony Braxton
Bass – Richard Davis
Cello, Piano, Clarinet, Piano – Muhal Richard Abrams
Drums, Percussion – Steve McCall
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, French Horn, Horns [Seal Horn], Percussion – Leo Smith
Violin, Viola, Recorder, Xylophone [Toy], Harmonica, Horns [Bicycle] – Leroy Jenkins

Recorded on May 19, 1970 at Washington Square Methodist Church (Peace Church NYC).

Fine early-'70s improvising unit that contained some of that decade's best soloists. The group sadly didn't do much recording, but what they made bristled with energy and was vastly superior to much free or spontaneously created material. The entire roster of Leo Smith, Anthony Braxton, Leroy Jenkins, Muhal Richard Abrams, Richard Davis, and Steve McCall would go on to make major contributions to the music in the '70s.

Braxton moved to Paris in June 1969, hot on the heels of Roscoe Mitchell, Joseph Jarman, Malachi Favors and Lester Bowie, a quartet who in Paris took on the name “the Art Ensemble of Chicago.” Braxton soon gigged with the Art Ensemble, and also recorded with European based musicians like Gunther Hampel and Jacques Coursil. As he rode in a taxi from the train station on arrival, Braxton saw fellow AACM member Steve McCall on the street. Soon McCall would join Braxton, violinist Leroy Jenkins and trumpeter Leo Smith in a quartet sometimes called the “Anthony Braxton Quartet” or the “Creative Construction Company.”

Although “Creative Construction Company” did not come out until the mid-70s, this is actually a recording of a concert in May 1970. Also, even though this is the first album to bear the name of the group, this is actually a continuation of the same group Anthony Braxton led on his first two albums, only its a slightly larger ensemble this time around. This is an all-star group, with the core trio of Braxton, Leo Smith and LeRoy Jenkins augmented with Muhal Richard Abrams, Steve Davis and Steve McCall. Some critics think that adding a rhythm section to the original trio destroyed some of their more sensitive interplay, and this may be true, but really what is recorded here is just a different type of music than the original trio, but not necessarily worse.

Along with The Art Ensemble of Chicago and others within Chicago’s AACM, the CCC presented a new style of free jazz improvisation. Unlike the more emotive and solo based excursions of the NYC crowd, the new Chicago scene favored group interplay and building ensemble tone colors instead of incendiary solos. This album represents this new style well with a fascinating 36 minute excursion that winds its way through many different textures and distinct sections. LeRoy Jenkins is credited with being the composer, and there does seem to be some sort of loose leadership to point the way from one section to the next.

Several of the musicians on here can play more than one instrument, which adds to all the tone colors available to them as they navigate from quiet string duos, to noise makers and percussion, to shrieking horns and pounding drums. All of this music has a nice flow to it, as if there was a conducted beat as in a concert hall piece. Overall an excellent album and a notch above much of the other avant-garde jazz albums of the time.