Roscoe Mitchell's New York-Detroit Connection | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Roscoe Mitchell's New York-Detroit Connection

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There's no mystery behind the consistently astounding talent and range of Art Ensemble of Chicago saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell. Regardless of the situation--solo, quartet, with AEC--his performances bristle with thoughtfulness and intriguing ideas; they're not always successful, but never for lack of trying. Mitchell's somewhat infrequent Chicago gigs are always worth checking out, but what makes this one particularly noteworthy is the Chicago debut of the terrific New York pianist Matthew Shipp. Best known for his simpatico work with the David S. Ware Quartet, Shipp may well be the finest of the current generation of post-Cecil Taylor pianists. His dense playing is characterized by a sturdy sense of the European tradition--he cites Bach, Chopin, Scriabin, and Debussy among his influences--which he tempers with a thorough understanding of the thunderous, African-tinged bass chords in the music of Randy Weston and the lush grandeur of Duke Ellington. Within his tangled post-Taylor clusters and lightning runs, a strong lyrical side paradoxically weaves complex but gentle melodies. His sole recording under Mitchell, This Dance Is for Steve McCall (Black Saint), provides a striking exposition of wide-open group dynamics and sensitive interplay, bringing out a side of Shipp that's different from his work as a leader or with Ware. Detroit guitarist Spencer Barefield, drummer Gerald Cleaver, and stalwart Chicago bassist Malachi Favors round out the group. Saturday, 9 PM, HotHouse, 1565 N. Milwaukee; 235-2334.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Dan Andair.

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