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Roscoe Mitchell & Scott Robinson in Conversation

Legendary saxophonist, composer, and founding member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) Roscoe Mitchell joins one of today’s most wide-ranging instrumentalists Scott Robinson to recount their musical history together, on the occasion of their concert marking the 50th anniversary of the AACM, hosted at Pioneer Works in October 2015. The pair's conversation touch on the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the saxophone's ability to speak its own language, and a historic bass marimba (used by Sun Ra!) featured in the evening's performance.

The concert was one of many special events celebrating the rich history of AACM, a music collective that for the past 50 years has been a standard-bearer of innovation, self-determination, and creativity’s power to transcend social and political barriers. The performance included Scott Robinson (woodwinds), Thomas Buckner (baritone), Tani Tabbal (drums), and Gerald Cleaver (marimba and drums).

Scott Robinson has been heard on tenor sax with Buck Clayton’s band, on trumpet with Lionel Hampton’s quintet, on alto clarinet with Paquito D’Rivera’s clarinet quartet, and on bass sax with the New York City Opera. On these and other instruments including theremin and ophicleide, he has been heard with a cross-section of jazz’s greats representing nearly every imaginable style of the music, from Braff to Braxton. Primarily a tenor saxophonist, Scott placed directly below the great Sonny Rollins in this year’s DownBeat Readers Poll. His releases as a leader have garnered five-star reviews from Leonard Feather, Down Beat Magazine and other sources worldwide, and have appeared in many “Best of the Year” lists. Scott’s collaborators on disc have included Frank Wess, Hank Jones, Joe Lovano, Ron Carter, and Bob Brookmeyer, and he has been a member of Maria Schneider’s Orchestra for twenty years.

Since the 60s, Roscoe Mitchell has been making music that defies genre and expands the potentials of the form. His work with the Art Ensemble of Chicago (a group comprised of several AACM members) for its use of costume, audience participation, and hundreds of on-stage instruments. His orchestral compositions and small improvisational groups rely heavily on the use of silence, and sounds not commonly heard in jazz and classical music. It is likely that Mitchell’s unique approach to music will continue to inspire generations as a model for creative practice.



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