The album closes with the wistful "When There Were Trains", a remembrance of youth and quieter times. The Brazilian influence re-emerges here in the beat, the harmonies and Oatts' transcendent flute. The composer's original lyrics stand out throughout the program and Ms. McGarry delivers with the game and emotion we have come to enjoy over the past decade.
"Balancing Act" speaks to the challenges of modern life and is adult music of the highest quality. Mike Holober does not speak down to his audience; instead, he respects the idea that the curious listener will enjoy the width and breadth of his project. The songs are intelligent, the arrangements impressive and the musicianship outstanding - find this music and take it into your heart.
For more information, go to www.mikeholober.com.
Here's the lovely last track:
3 younger members, Nicole Mitchell (flute, electronics), Tomeka Reid (cello), and Mike Reed (drums), have recorded a tribute to the organization. "Artifacts" (482 Music) is a fine collection of 10 pieces by 9 composers, most of whom (Abrams, McCall, Leroy Jenkins, Fred Anderson, Amina Claudine Myers, Anthony Braxton, and Roscoe Mitchell) were there at the beginning. The Trio also plays a work by Edward Wilkerson, whose music emerged in the dates 1970s, and one by guitarist Jeff Parker. The latter's composition, "Days Fly By with Ruby" is attached to Anderson's "Bernice", a smart move as the guitarist was mentored by the saxophonist in the 1990s.
The late Steve McCall (1933-1989) is the only composer on he CD with 2 tracks, both associated by his work alongside Henry Threadgill (saxes, flute) and the late Fred Hopkins (bass) in Air. "B.K." has numerous rhythmic changes, a tumultuous cello part, and fiery drumming while "I'll Be Right Here Waiting" is a stunning ballad (certainly the prettiest piece that Air ever performed). The round notes of the flute combined with the thick cello tones and the wonderful colors created by Reed (especially when the music drops out of tempo) is powerful and emotionally rich.
Mr. Wilkerson's delightful march "Light On The Path" closes the program on quite an upbeat note. The way Ms. Mitchell's wraps her dancing flute phrases around the active pizzicato cello while the drummer dances along in abandon will set your feet tapping. The funky drums that support Ms. Reid's cello solo reminds one that the AACM made and still makes music from all elements of the Black experience throughout the world.
The title "Artifacts" may make you think of a museum or an archaeological exploration yet this is far from what Nicole Mitchell, Tomeka Reid and Mike Reed want one to feel about this music. No, these compositions and performances are alive with possibilities; the DNA of the originals is deep inside the musicians and they understand this music was made for the ages. The album serves as both a tribute and a reminder what can be accomplished by a community.
For more information, go to www.482music.com.
What one should do with such (seemingly) complex music is to concentrate on a particular musician each time you listen. Mitchell's piano is the driving force of this music yet he understands the need to stand back when the material calls for it. His subtle backing of Speed's clarinet solo on "All The Elasticity" not only reacts to the phrases being played and providing counterpoint but also pays attention to the other members of the rhythm section, feeding them chords. Mitchell uses his power in a similar manner to Don Pullen on "Utensil Strength", splintering melodic lines and creating a musical firestorm in his left hands. The propulsive melodic fragment that appears throughout the song serves to change the focus and intensity. On that same track, notice how Weiss moves in and out of the picture; at one point, he is silent for 4 minutes while closer to the end, he's playing the melody and pushing the proceedings. His hip-hop approach at the opening of "Numb Trudge" press at the tolling piano chords trying to coax Mitchell into a melody and, after 2 minutes, Speed enters and plays a theme. When he's done, the song breaks down and the pianist plays a long, abstract, solo that ultimately removes the tension. Once he's done, the other musicians enter and slowly the piece builds up with Speed's clarinet leading the way.
I've played "Vista Accumulation" numerous times in the past 6 weeks and each time I hear something new. What is more evident now is the emotional richness and sincerity of this music, the honesty with which Matt Mitchell and band breath life into the notes and in how they interact with each other. The songs may be long (none under 7:48 and 4 above 12:28) but there is not a dull moment to be heard.
For more information, go to www.mattmitchell.us. To get a taste of this excellent recording, go to matt-mitchell.bandcamp.com/album/vista-accumulation.