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Roscoe Mitchell: Solo 3

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Roscoe Mitchell is feeling intimations of mortality. And who can blame him, after losing two of his most important collaborators, Lester Bowie and Malachi Favors, over the past few years? Solo [3] had originally been planned as a single-disc release, but Mitchell decided he had more to say, and a finite time in which to say it, so he expanded the project to three discs covering different aspects of his solo music.

Disc one is Tech Ritter and the Megabytes; and it consists of two extended solo soprano sax pieces, a solo percussion piece, a flute solo with percussion self-accompaniment and three tracks featuring overdubbed saxes. Solo sax is notoriously hard to put over, largely because the ear can get really tired really quick of hearing one instrument play one note at a time for an extended period. On the soprano solo “November 17, 2000,” Mitchell effectively addresses that by creating a dialogue with himself, biting out upper harmonic partials that augment and even seem to run counter to the main improvised line. The flute and percussion piece and the multiple sax improvs are obviously a different matter. These (particularly the two Tech Ritter quartets) engage the ear immediately and naturally. With a single intellect in charge, even the wildest and woolliest improvised pieces maintain consistency and coherence.

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