Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis, Roscoe Mitchell: Scrape
Streaming (Pi 22)
Composed by Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis, and Roscoe Mitchell.
Recorded: January 8 or 9, 2005
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
Free jazz inspired by those noted post-boppers Henry Cowell and John Cage. Just kidding (kinda), but it's true that the sonic ground for this music was prepared by mid-20th century experimental classical composers, for the most part. The genius of Abrams, et al, is that they managed to engage that sound world using techniques that evolved out of jazz. In the process, they created a distinct experimental realm that invested soul into what, in the hands of classical musicians, tended to be a dry, emotionally constipated approach.
As members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Abrams, Lewis, and Mitchell have a long history of playing together, and indeed this music demonstrates a powerful empathy created out of common experience. The totally improvised "Scrape" is an alternately spacious and claustrophobic construct; the music is sometimes spare, sometimes very busy. The analogy of a "conversation" between the players (one that's so often drawn in describing improvised music) doesn't work here. This is more of a dance, whereupon the players move gracefully in relation to one another, creating a world of impressions through infinitely varied textures, timbres, and rhythms. It's abstract, yes, but not rarefied. There's a profoundly human feel to this music that ultimately sanctifies even their most esoteric impulse. It is very beautiful.
Reviewer: Chris Kelsey