Roscoe Mitchell & The Sound Ensemble: Reverend Frank Wright


Reverend Frank Wright


Roscoe Mitchell & The Sound Ensemble


Live at the Knitting Factory

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Roscoe Mitchell (bari sax), Hugh Ragin (trumpet), A. Spencer Barefield (guitar), Jaribu Shahid (bass, conga), Tani Tabbal (percussion).

Composed by Roscoe Mitchell


Recorded: New York, November 11, 1987


Rating: 80/100 (learn more)

Frank Wright was an unalloyed free jazz tenor saxophonist, an Ayler-esque energy player active from the 1960s until his death in 1990. On this recorded tribute, Roscoe Mitchell transfers Wright's/Ayler's overblown tenor aesthetic to the bari sax. The results are essentially the same on bari as tenor—a wash of undifferentiated saxophonic distortion, played with maximum exertion and minimum subtlety. Mitchell's band mates join in the fun, playing as hard and fast as the leader. In the track's first moments, Tani Tabbal's dextrous drum work grabs the ear, as does Spencer Barefield's mercurial guitar, before Mitchell enters and all hell breaks loose. Mitchell is a great musician, yet this music makes little use of the more chimerical qualities that define his greatness. For the musicians (and to some listeners, particularly members of the live audience) this type of cathartic yawp has its merits. But it isn't something I'd come back to.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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