Roscoe Mitchell: composition, alto saxophone | Thomas Buckner: baritone | Nils Bultmann: viola | Joseph Kubera: piano | Vartan Manoogian: *1936 – + 2007) violin | Stephen Rush: piano | Hans Sturm: double bass | Joan Wildman: piano | William Winant: tubular bells, orchestra bells, vibraphone
Tracks 1, 7 and 13 recorded on March 27th 2010, 8 on January 10th 2010 and 12 on August 8th 2010 at Mills College, Oakland, CA, USA; recording and mixing by Robert Shumaker assisted by James Frazier. 2, 4, 5 & 6 recorded on February 13th 2003 at Systems Two, Brooklyn, NY, USA: recording and mixing by Tom Hamilton. 3 recorded on August 16th 2002 at Audio for the Arts, Madison, WI, USA; recording and mixing by Buzz Kemper. 9, 10 & 11 recorded on February 10th 2010 at the Audio Studio, Duderstadt Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA; recording by Jason Corey. Liner notes: Bill Shoemaker. Photographs: Jacques Bisceglia. Cover design: Max Schoendorff. Cover realization: David Bourguignon, URDLA. Producer: Michel Dorbon
Tracklist: 1. Bells for New Orleans (prelude) (1:33) 2. 9/9/99 (10:33) 3. Sketches (6:36) 4. because it’s (2:14) 5. this (4:30) 6. dim (5:47) 7. Bells for New Orleans (5:01) 8. WR/C 2A Opus I (9:49) 9. 8/8/88 1st Movement (4:24) 10. 8/8/88 2nd Movement (1:50) 11. 8/8/88 3rd Movement (3:33) 12. 9/9/09 (7:09) 13. Bells for New Orleans (postlude) (2:11)
All compositions by Roscoe Mitchell. Poems “because it’s”, “this” and “dim” are by e.e. cummings
In the 45 years since he recorded Sound, Roscoe Mitchell’s
music has steadily evolved and diversified, making the idea of a comprehensive one-disc survey an impossibility. However, as much as any album, the both/and nature of Roscoe Mitchell’s music is vividly represented on Numbers. — Bill Shoemaker, excerpts from the liner notes
is devoted to the works of Roscoe Mitchell the composer, a problematic issue for many who question the role of composition in an improviser’s work when it is something more than material to be explored and subsumed in improvisation. While Numbers focuses on through-composition, many of the qualities present in Mitchell’s works for improvisation are present here, albeit with very different senses of containment and limit. These pieces seem to turn back on themselves, rather than outward, developing formal resonances that would be lost in a context that admitted improvisation. The same is true of their interest in sound and resonance. With development controlled absolutely, we experience the most detailed measurement of a sonic relationship.
The series of works is structured around three solo pieces for bells performed by William Winant. The CD opens with “Bells for New Orleans (prelude)” and ends with “Bells for New Orleans (postlude),” both played on tubular bells: the centerpiece is “Bells for New Orleans,” a more developed work played on orchestral bells that develops near-electronic resonance between ringing adjacent tones. The structure and the pieces lend an overall shape to the CD, their resonance and overtones emphasizing a mood of serious reflection.
Among the pieces played here, there’s a real freedom in Mitchell’s harmonic language, each piece developing its own character and shape as well as a distinctive sound and overtone palette provided by the ever-shifting instruments and players. Several pieces emphasize strings, two with piano. “9/9/99” is an extended duet performed by pianist Joseph Kubera and violinist Vartan Manoogian that demonstrates Mitchell’s particularly dry lyricism. The most effective of the duos is the one on which Mitchell plays with Winant (“WR/C 2A Opus 1”): Mitchell’s sense of voice, conjoined with the permutating overtones and dynamics, makes the piece come most intensely to life. Another highlight is the three-movement piano piece “8/8/88,” a richly varied work that’s performed with both great spirit and attention to detail by Stephen Rush. Emphasizing clusters, it moves in its three movements from solemnity to exuberance. It’s a characteristic movement in Mitchell’s writing, immediately echoed here in “9/9/09,” a powerful solo viola piece performed by Nils Bultman.
The cumulative effect of the pieces is a sense of depth, of resonances developing and continuing, backwards and forwards, within the materials just as they stand. -–Stuart Broomer
CD version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)