Roscoe Mitchell
Solo [3]


Sometimes I get the unpleasant feeling that one day Roscoe Mitchell will be "rediscovered" by the very same people who are deliberately ignoring him today. So, in preparation for that day, I've already started looking for a stick that's strong enough...

Looking at the "list of the ingredients" - a solo album, and a triple CD, even if with its "buy two, get three" formula - I'm almost tempted to classify Solo [3] as a work that's preaching to the already converted. But when taken into consideration the high quality of the material, the sophisticated musical language, the excellent recorded sound, the reduced price...

I'd define Solo [3] as closely related to the excellent (and extremely undervalued) double album titled Sound Songs (1997), where Mitchell overdubbed for the first time, and where he dedicated more space than usual to his use of percussion instruments. Just like for that CD, here the nice, perceptive liner notes are by John Litweiler (does anybody remember that fantastic book titled The Freedom Principle?).

The Percussion Cage And Music On The Go is the title of CD #3, the one in this set that I listened to more often: sixteen improvised pieces for solo percussion (it's the instrument called "percussion cage" that appears in the pictures included with the booklet), which sound fresh and definitely accessible; five brief (hence, the definition of "music on the go") tracks for solo soprano sax round up the CD. Titled Solar Flares, CD #2 features ten tracks for solo alto saxophone, which gets to be explored in both the upper and lower portion of its range; the results are incredibly "friendly" - obviously mature, and sometimes even more than a bit "bluesy". CD #1, Tech Ritter And The Megabytes, is the more instrumentally varied of the set, and could prove to be the most difficult for the uninitiated: the first track, The Little Big Horn 2, is an overdubbed revisitation for bass sax and sopranino; then, we have two very long tracks for solo soprano, recorded live; a fascinating track for percussion and flute which, at least for this writer, proved to be the most charming piece on this particular CD; another nice track for solo percussion; and two brief tracks (one composed, the other improvised) for saxophone quartet titled Tech Ritter And The Megabytes, both excellent.

Beppe Colli

© Beppe Colli 2004 | June 29, 2004