Roscoe Mitchell Quartet

In Walked Buckner

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Roscoe Mitchell once fronted perhaps his most daringly different trio with multi-instrumentalist Gerald Oshita and vocalist Thomas Buckner. This recording, dedicated to Buckner, captures the singing characteristics of Buckner in a purely instrumental way, and quite beautifully. Timbres are rare and off-kilter, free flowing, static, or flat-out swinging. In the middle is Mitchell, carrying the torch that has kept him a vital, adventurous American musician for three decades. Armed with a raft of woodwind instruments, Mitchell, with yeoman's help from bassist Reggie Workman, the judicious pianistics of Jodie Christian and the masterful drumming of Al Heath, makes the quartet, when they play together, unstoppable. Substantive solo space is distributed, especially for the leader. Check out his saxophone on the self-explanatory "Squeaky." Smaller combinations are fashioned with a no-time policy. Improvisations are stark and real. Spiritual evocations are evident. The bulk of the remainder of the eight-cut program, from the ethereally nautical "Off Shore," the lilting "Le Dreher Suite," and the haunting "Opposite Sides" emphatically showcase Mitchell's otherworldly flute work. They are convincing exhibits of Mitchell's position as perhaps the premier and essential improvised musical voice in the avant-garde of them all. In spirit, execution, and intent, Mitchell succeeds on all levels, except perhaps as a hitmaker. Surely his fans like it that way. Highly recommended to appreciators of this style.

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