Adventurous composer, jazz improviser and iconoclastic saxophone don: Art Ensemble of Chicago’s Roscoe Mitchell looks back.
Roscoe Mitchell is one of the top saxophonists to emerge from the creative melting pot of 1960s Chicago. A key member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Mitchell gained notoriety as a particularly strong and adventurous improviser, pushing the boundaries of what was imaginable in the fields of jazz and Neue Musik. On his seminal Sound album (1966) he incorporated toys, horns and random objects; a prolific composer and performer, Mitchell’s charisma translates to both recorded performances and onstage. Mitchell is celebrated for his rare ability to move, with apparent ease, from free and formal jazz into the realms of contemporary classical music and beyond. Some critics have called him a “super musician” – a hypothetical construct reserved for the type of genius that reigns over various styles and deciphers the very DNA of a musical genre. In this Fireside Chat, the prolific artist discusses his beginnings in an Army band and the influence of big-band sound, improvisation, working with the Art Ensemble of Chicago and more.