Roscoe Mitchell Quartet: The Flow of Things - No. 1


The Flow of Things - No. 1


Roscoe Mitchell Quartet


The Flow of Things (Black Saint BSR 0090)

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Roscoe Mitchell (soprano sax), Malachi Favors Maghostut (bass), Steve McCall (drums),

Jodie Christian (piano)


Composed by Roscoe Mitchell


Recorded: Chicago, September 7, 1986


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

One of three versions of "The Flow of Things" on the album of the same name, the composition is obviously more of a guiding concept than a notated work. The piece has Mitchell on soprano playing long, mostly scalar lines so fast as to be an aural scrawl. Mitchell uses a circular breathing technique, so his phrases seldom begin or end. Instead, they buzz in the ether as an undifferentiated blur—a highly focused, 10-minute burst of intellectual and physical energy by an artist with great reserves of both. Bassist Malachi Favors plucks with remarkable facility. In a sense, his quick pizzicato lines give Mitchell's unrelenting barrage a kind of temporal definition, providing fleeting but perceptible points of reference. On piano, Jodie Christian performs a somewhat similar task, although his nearly constant two-handed chordings do not stake-out their own place in the overall sound quite as clearly. Drummer Steve McCall matches Mitchell's intensity and perhaps even raises it a notch. The ten-minute track reaches a high level of excitement quickly and remains there throughout. Listening is an enervating but inspiriting experience.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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