Roscoe Mitchell - Composer/Jazz Instrumentalist © Joseph Blough

Roscoe Mitchell

Composer/Multi-Instrumentalist/Educator

"We did more recording this weekend and I am absolutely amazed at the sound reproduction that comes from the Violet microphones. The Flamingo Stereo has a warm sound overall without sacrificing presence or clarity. The Flamingo Junior also has a very warm and direct sound with an intimate presence that gives certain richness to the sound of the Alto Saxophone. The focus of the Finger is incredible. Just as I suspected, it's an excellent microphone for the videos I'd like to shoot. The reflector ring gives it great versatility, as well."

Roscoe Mitchell is an African American composer, jazz instrumentalist, and educator. His technically advanced saxophone style has proved that he is not only a rare jazz musician, but also an innovative key figure in avant-garde jazz and a forerunner in contemporary music. His dedication and creative spirit have played an integral role in the evolution of jazz and other music genres.

Mitchell grew up in Chicago, Illinois where he began playing saxophone and clarinet at age twelve. In the 1950s, he joined the United States Army and was stationed in Heidelberg, Germany. While serving overseas, he played in a band with fellow saxophonists Albert Ayler and Rubin Cooper and studied under the first clarinetist of the Heidelberg Symphony. Mitchell returned to the United States in the early 1960s, where he performed in a Chicago-based band with Malachi Favors (bass), Joseph Jarman, Henry Threadgill, and Anthony Braxton (all saxophonists). In 1961, Mitchell studied with Muhal Richard Abrams and played in his band, the Muhal Richard Abrams' Experimental Band.

In 1965, Mitchell became one of the founding members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). The AACM is a collective of musicians and composers dedicated "to nurturing, performing, and recording serious, original music." Its members provide leadership and vision for the development of creative music, paying homage to the diverse styles of expression within the body of Black Music in the USA, Africa, and throughout the world. The AACM is supported by grants from organizations such as the Illinois Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Chicago Office of Fine Arts. It is also receives funds from generous donations by its members and friends. AACM later became known as the Art Ensemble of Chicago and the colorful unit was declared one of the most popular groups in the jazz avant-garde genre.

Mitchell released his monumental "Sound" album in 1966. This collection of inspiring songs introduced a new way of freely improvising by utilizing silence, small instruments and unorthodox devices alongside conventional horns. Even items such as toys and bicycle horns were used to create the album's unique, whimsical sound. "Sound" was noted as a departure from the more extroverted work of New York-based free jazz players and gained notoriety as a cutting-edge experimental compilation.

The '70s found Mitchell expanding on his solo saxophone concept, working with the AACM in various combinations and performing with the Art Ensemble of Chicago. In 1974, Roscoe established the Creative Arts Collective based in East Lansing, MI, a group similar in purpose to the AACM. In the '80s and early 90s, Mitchell led the Sound Ensemble, a side project that included members of his Creative Arts Collective. In the late '90s, Mitchell branched out even more, collaborating more frequently with such classical composer/performers as Pauline Oliveros and Thomas Buckner. Mitchell's use of unusual sonorities and his embrace of quiet sounds helped define an entire jazz subgenre.

Mr. Mitchell is the recipient of many honors and awards including The International Jazz Critics Poll, Down Beat Magazine [Composer "Talent Deserving Wider Recognition", Best Jazz Group (Established)-Art Ensemble of Chicago, Record of the Year-Nonaah]; Jazz Personality of the Year, City of Madison, Wisconsin; Certificate of Appreciation, The St. Louis Public Schools Role Model Experiences Program; Honorary Citizen of Atlanta, GA; The Jazz Masters Award, Arts Midwest; Outstanding Service to Jazz Education Award, National Association of Jazz Educators; Certificate of Appreciation, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Smithsonian Institution; and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Image Award. His unwavering dedication to music development will continue to bring him much success now and into the future.

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