Friday, May 22, 2015

ROSCOE MITCHELL – Old-Quartet / 1967 (LP-1975)

Label: Nessa Records – N-5
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: US / Released: 1975
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
„Old“ recorded May 18, 1967, „Quartet Part ½“ recorded May 19, 1967.
„Solo“ recorded November 25, 1967.
Liner Notes [1975] – Larry Kart, Terry Martin
Producer – Chuck Nessa
Recorded By, Photography – Terry Martin

A1 - Old .............................................................. 8:09
A2 - Quartet Part 1 ............................................ 19:40
B1 - Quartet Part 2 ............................................ 18:03
B2 - Solo ............................................................. 5:34

Roscoe Mitchell – alto/soprano sax, clarinet, flute, performer little instruments
Lester Bowie – trumpet, flugelhorn, performer little instruments
Malachi Favors – bass, performer little instruments
Phillip Wilson – drums, percusson, others little instruments

In the mid to late 60s, saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell was at the center of a group of young Chicago-based musicians who were extending the language of the free jazz revolution, until then largely a New York-based phenomenon. That was about to change. Mitchell led a quartet that also included trumpeter Lester Bowie, bassist Malachi Favors, and drummer Phillip Wilson. By the time the group made its first record. The style of this seminal ensemble was being defined when the rehearsal tapes that comprise Old/Quartet were made in 1967. Mitchell & Co. were not afraid to blow through the roof in the fiery style of their New York counterparts, but they also liked to reach back towards musical roots (“Old” is a 12-bar blues on which the traditional structure is respected, if not overmuch), as well as towards contemporary classical developments, or anywhere else that suited them. The tone can be passionate, ironic, whimsical, or sedate, sometimes all at the same time...
By Duck Baker

Recorded in the year prior to his groundbreaking Congliptious but not released until 1975, Old Quartet captures the Roscoe Mitchell Art Ensemble (which would later coalesce into the Art Ensemble of Chicago) on a clear pathway toward the later album's majestic heights. In fact, it leads off with "Old," which closed the other album, and this performance is arguably superior both in its greater expansiveness and in Lester Bowie's incredibly poised trumpet work. That they slightly flub the ending (and joke about it) only adds to the relaxed air of the piece. "Quartet" is in two lengthy parts, and is a loose, somewhat rambling exploration that anticipates the title track from Congliptious less, perhaps, than it does Mitchell's quasi-narrative epic "The Spiritual" from two year later. The amount of freedom already at hand in 1967 is breathtaking, however. The group never meanders aimlessly; each little sound or moment of silence contributes to the flow. Vocal hums, whistles, harmonica tootles, and struck bells share equal footing with the more "traditional" instruments. Early on, Mitchell had realized that "free jazz" didn't only mean screaming at the top of one's lungs; there was room for quiet. The group would mature greatly over the next year, but all the seeds are clearly here. The album ends with a solo performance by Mitchell, augmenting his alto with bells, harmonica, and percussion. It's almost frightening how he's able to seesaw between delicate, music box-like melodies and the most harrowing slabs of sonic assault possible.
While perhaps a small step below Congliptious, it is nonetheless a beautiful album in its own right and one that ranks very high in Roscoe Mitchell's discography.

50 Years of AACM - Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians

If you find it, buy this album!


  1. ROSCOE MITCHELL – Old-Quartet / 1967 (LP-1975)
    Vinyl Rip/FLAC+Cover


  2. Two Roscoe Mitchell I don't have, lucky day.

  3. Vitko, I really appreciate your work. Thank you!

  4. Thanks Vitko! Great album from a master.

  5. Thank you verry much for this!

  6. Three wonderful albums in a row! Since you're in such a happy AEoC/Roscoe mood, do you have his album Snurdy McGurdy and her Dancin' Shoes? Such a fun record. Many Many thanks!!!

    1. Yes, I have that album, but from your comment I do not understand well, is it simply only the question, or you want to have that album :)

    2. I would love to hear it!

  7. Thank you so much for these three albums, the sound is simply amazing. Wonderful rip. Uwe from Germany.

  8. do you have Congliptious by any chance? just discovered your blog! fantastic work! The Wildflower Loft session is awesome :)

    1. Yes I have, more Roscoe Mitchell's rare LP releases is the planed in December this year or January next year.

  9. the WildFlower 5-pack, from Sam River's Rivbea, is New Jazz History, a revival of the spiritual jazz at the time ... Roscoe Mitchel's "Chant"(wildflowers #5 side B) letting us listeners know that New York music scene was being led by awesome....
    thanks for the reminders of this history.