Roscoe Mitchell Orchestra – Littlefield Concert Hall Mills College
Each of the four pieces on the album is a product of the Roscoe's tireless efforts to devise systems to articulate and capitalize on the tensions between composition and improvisation in both his own work and music as a practice at-large. Three of the four works ("Rub," "Wha-Wha," and "Frenzy House") are part of the "Conversations for Orchestra" series, the history of which is described in detail in the liner notes for Mitchell's 2017 album "Discussions" (Wide Hive Records WH-0339). In brief, the "Conversations" series consists of compositions which trace their genesis back to a suite of improvisations recorded by Mitchell, pianist Craig Taborn, and drummer Kikanju Baku in 2014 (which can be heard on the Wide Hive releases "Conversations I" and "Conversations II"). Mitchell has employed some of the most talented minds from all over the globe to produce precise, note-for-note transcriptions of the complex material improvised by the trio. The process suggests a vision of music making which eschews both the rigid fixity of composition and the flighty transience of improvisation, recasting both practices in a way that emphasizes meticulous idea-craft, instantaneous communication, and unbounded imagination. The album's first track is "Rub" from the "Conversations" series. In this iteration, the orchestra eases us into an opening improvisation by Soo Yeon Lyuh, whose utterly, exquisitely sensitive haegeum playing nearly crystallizes the air around her as she's soon joined by baritone Thomas Buckner and flautist Gianni Trovalusci. Andy Strain's opening cadenza on the second track, "Wha-Wha," serves as a testament to the trombonist's soaring talent as a melodist and full-bodied mastery of tone. "No Nah Nah Nai", is an original work conducted by Mitchell himself Ellis's harp. Such is the stunning genius of the series, each element of which is a fruitful, boundless text ever always being by becoming.-from the liner notes of Joshua Marshall.
1. Rub - 9:41 2. Nonainainah - 11:18 3. Wha Wha - 10:08 4. Frenzy House - 10:54