November 6, 2020
Splatter - Roscoe Mitchell
Label: I Dischi Di Angelica
Catalog #: IDA040
Release Date: June 5, 2020
The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House request that this review start off with the disclaimer that the existence and content of the review is utterly irrelevant to Roscoe Mitchell, his music and his legacy. In recent years we have generally preferred to write reviews of young artists for whom there may be some modest practical benefit in promoting the attractions of their music. For an octogenarian such as Roscoe Mitchell (born August 3, 1940), there can be no such value. His reputation is already determined. Still we listened to this record and we were compelled to say a word or two.
Splatter contains three tracks. Of the first two tracks, Splatter (05:30) and Distant Radio Transmission (19:36), which feature such luminaries as Thomas Buckner and Craig Taborn, we choose to say nothing. Instead we devote the entirety of our attention to the third and final track, Breath And Pipes (48:51).
Breath And Pipes, as the name suggests, is a duet between breath and pipes. In the role of breath, we have Roscoe Mitchell on saxophone. Organist Francesco Filidei fulfills the role of pipes. Their duet provides everything one could have hoped for from a saxophone/organ duet except that, as far as we know, in the history of the universe there has never been a saxophone/organ duet; therefore one could expect precisely nothing. The realization is simultaneously haunting and beautiful.
We could attempt to describe the improvisation in words except that it would be pointless and unsatisfying for both writer and reader. Instead, let it be said that we, as admirers of the music of Roscoe Mitchell, purchased this cd with the expectation that it would be another interesting blend of composition and improvisation from a master of both techniques. This is true of the first two tracks. What we could not anticipate was the unexpected revelation that consumed the last two thirds of the disc.
To be sure, of the almost eight billion Homo sapiens on planet Earth today, a vanishingly small portion of the population will hear this music and be impacted by it. This is, of course, exactly as it should be. No music should be widely heard. Each music should be heard, if not locally, then by a finite audience distributed around the globe. Let a diversity of voices flourish! However, for those inclined to seek out the music of Roscoe Mitchell, this recording holds a special, magnificent treat.