7 April 2008

Roscoe Mitchell - Duets with Anthony Braxton

Continuing with the AACM flood and also responding to a request from Cent, this is a mid-70s recording with two of the AACM veterans, Roscoe Mitchell and Anthony Braxton. No prices for guessing who is who. This was done for the Canadian Sackville label and the notes on the back reveal that both of them made more records for the label at about this time. I do have the Mitchell group record in case there is an interest in that one.
Seven pieces in all, with Mitchell credited with the four on side one and Braxton with the three on side two, the latter with "graphical" titles. Most of the pieces are what one might call minimalist "tone poems" with the players throwing phrases back and forth and demonstrating in the process an amazing rapport with each other and an astounding ability to listen and to respond. The odd one out in this collection is "Composition 40Q" which to me sounds like a warped marching tune for an unspecified furry or feathered creature, demonstrating that there's an underlying sense of humour in Braxton's work, too. And as familiar listeners will expect, they keep switching between a multitude of reeds and woodwinds throughout the set, but leaving out the "little instruments" this time. A record for the long haul, I thought, and one to return to now and then.
01_Five Twenty One Equals Eight
02_Line Fine Lyon Seven
03_Seven Behind Nine Ninety-Seven Sixteen or Seven
04_Cards - Three and Open
05_Comp. 40Q
06_Comp. 74A
07_Comp. 74B
There seems to be numbering theme behind Mitchell's pieces, but I've no idea about what significance to attach to it. Braxton's pieces are in general numbered.
Now, with a little more time on my hands, I hope to do more Braxton 70s vinyls, so stay tuned!


kinabalu said...

mp3 version here:


flac version here:



The mp3 version should be fully satisfactory, but I've put in a flac version, too, for those folks who want it.

BondiUrbano said...

Impressive post.

centrifuge said...

thankyou thankyou thankyou :)))

you are a lovely man!

c x

Djll said...

Bless you for posting this. This is one of the highlights of Roscoe's catalog, not to mention Braxton. The 40Q piece is one of Braxton's stalwarts, yeah, a march. He used to use it in his workshops to separate the wheat from the chaff, reading-wise. It's thorny!

centrifuge said...

still downloading it, but will play it at once - it's unlikely to be a regular braxtothon recording anyway i should think, more suitable for a separate article some time... otherwise it's an inexcusable departure from the schedule, since 1976 is up next for me anyway! (this week in fact...)

actually this completes a full house of 1976 discog entries for me (this being squeezed into december of that year, not '77 as the sleeve claims... mid-january they were at it again, for a piece on mitchell's landmark nonaah album) - so that's another reason to miss it off the schedule, i gotta cut some stuff somewhere ... but who knows, we will see eh :)

producers thank the artists for the privilege of recording their music... bloody hell, you don't read that too often, do you (shame!)

1009 said...

yes, thanks!

anyone heard from our pal chuck on the nonaah reissue? i was a good boy & didn't download it (i believe fredito had it up briefly before chuck asked him to take it down), but now i'm impatiently awaiting its re-release.

centrifuge said...

mmm, good luck with that... supposedly it is scheduled... mr nessa himself may be able to tell us - ? he used to keep an eye on the blogs as we know, even occasionally said things other than "please take down my product"


what an interesting record! very scientific - the whole presentation is very much that of a series of lab-controlled experiments... but then i suppose all studio recordings are, to an extent (!) - anyway, i'm not gonna get sidetracked into saying anything too detailed right now ... but thanks again :) the original 40q (listening to the carter/bluiett quintet revamp at the moment) is fascinating, surprisingly lacking in forceful projection at first (i like kinabalu's furry-footed march image) but of course filled with some really interesting playing from both, especially as they open out into the free space...

that third mitchell piece is extraordinary also

i think 74a and 74b may be the wrong way round, judging by the discog..? copy/paste link and click on either title for details:


1009 said...

from the man hisself (wrote me back in about 10 min.):

Nonaah was delayed to add extra material - locate tapes etc. I just returned from Chicago (today) where I spent 2 days in the studio working on the tapes. I return next week for another 2 days to finish the masters. The final "product" should follow in about 90 days.

Thanks for your interest and patience.

PS: The earliest information will probably be posted on the Organissimo forum.

anoneponymous said...

no..... way.......!

This looks awesome, thank you. I had no idea they ever recorded as a duo.

Anonymous said...

I bought this when it first came out, but after taking it back to the shop several times, I settled for an imperfect pressing. I've been after a copy for years and would buy it at the drop of a hat if it were ever re-released, though I seem to remember a statement from Sackville that they would not do so. Thanks very much for this.

Sam said...

Interest in the Roscoe Mitchell group LP? Yes, please! And thanks so much for this, and from my end, please keep it up with the flac files. Much appreciated!

kinabalu said...

Sam, I'll make a note of that request.

Good to hear "Noonah" is coming out again. The promise of extras is an enticement to getting the cd, too.

Cent, thanks for your observations. I suppose a studio setting makes for a more clinical ambience than playing in front of the audience, where you do get an extra layer of interactivity. Mind you, knowing the background story of the first piece on Noonah, that ambience can be more acrimonious than convivial, at least from the beginning. It could be worthwhile following that path a little further and dig out other Braxton duets from that or later periods. I have the Braxton - Lewis from the Moers festival which could very well be the next one up. By the way, Lewis is also in the Mitchell quintet, so all sorts of interesting linkages to explore here ...

centrifuge said...

kinabalu - by a happy coincidence, i did the listening session for that moers duo album yesterday. on the presumption that it's long unavailable, you will be doing a real service to the blogosphere if you can post it! amazing music. (needless to say, the mitchell quintet interests me also...)

kinabalu said...

Cent, there are copies to be had from second-hand retailers, but no official rerelease so far from what I can make out. Okee dokee, I'll put those two at the top of the to-do list, so hang in there ...

Tantris said...

I initially found this a tough nut to crack, but have listened to it several times now since it was posted, and this morning it made a strong impression on me. For me, Roscoe Mitchell's pieces seem austere - less tone poems than clauses taken from some lengthy document, and Anthony Braxton's pieces are less abstract and more visual. Thanks, kinabulu, for posting this - I would like to hear more from this label.

sotise said...

its a very beautiful album, and along with braxtons for trio on arista ,my favourite aacm record.
i find roscoe mitchell's austerity compelling, if indeed it is austerity, whatever it is its unique and precious.

he may be undervalued by comparison to braxton ,but his oeuvre is dear to me.
one of the 21st century's greatest composers by now.

i return more consitently to roscoe m's records than those of the aeoc.
i dont really know why mitchells records hold such a profound resonance for me.

sotise said...

sam which roscoe mitchell quartet lp are we talking about.
if its the 1975 sackville release, even though i have the lp , last year i bought a copy of the cd, for just a few bucks, it has been reissued.

one that hasnt to my knowledge is ,one i used to have the solo album from roughly the same time 76 from memory.
with a cover image of roscoe sitting outside his wooden shack ,with all his horns visably arrayed,and a german shepherd beside him.

anyone remember the record or better still have it ?

kinabalu said...

Funny you should mention the Mitchell solo - it's on the way towards yours truly, as is the other Braxton "Trio and duet" record on that label. The Mitchell group does indeed appear to be available on cd, so I might have to sit on that one (and so is the Braxton), but not the Mitchell solo as far as I know ...

nukkle said...

another amazing treasure unearthed. Thanks to you--but especially to RM and AB.

kinabalu said...

Alternative links:

mp3 version:


flac version: