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Any new recording by Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis and Roscoe Mitchell would be a notable occasion, but a recording by all three together is a genuine historical moment. All three are members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Muhal Richard Abrams (piano and percussion), a founder of the AACM, is a hugely influential musician who has been responsible for vastly expanding the boundaries of jazz. Roscoe Mitchell (saxophones and percussion) is well known as the founder of one of jazz’s most recognized groups: The Art Ensemble of Chicago. George Lewis (trombone and laptop) is a MacArthur genius grant recipient who is influential in his use of computer electronics. The three have worked together in the past, recording on each other’s albums such as Lewis’ Shadowgraph (Black Saint, 1977), Mitchell’s Nonaah (Nessa, 1978) and Abrams’ Spihumonesty (Black Saint, 1980). The trio most recently played together at the 2003 Venice Biennale and that concert provided at least part of the impetus for the three to collaborate again as a trio.

So how to describe this music? As George Lewis wrote in his liner notes for the CD, “What we hear are particular moments in time, in which improvisative musical experience proceeds directly from manifestations of trust and openness, and from visions of new models of community.” “Trust” and “open” are two words that Lewis often goes back to when describing the creative process behind this music. Unlike the composed pieces found on the trio’s previous recorded works, the five pieces found on this CD were openly improvised — each piece is a spontaneous creation. There were no prior agreements as to tempo, timbre, volume or length — any such rules would only restrict the open flow of ideas. The AACM draws a clear distinction between improvisation that is “open””as opposed to “free.” Perhaps it’s just a matter of semantics, but “free” improvisation as a genre is often thought to be an act of solipsistic self-absorption, where connection to your fellow musicians takes second place to the indulgence of the ego. “Open,” on the other hand, as George explained to us, implies boundless possibilities. Because there is a tacit agreement to converse in a non-hierarchical manner, each musician is entrusted to not impose his will in a manner that is destructive to open dialogue. With this trust, the dialogue is truly open – open for each musician to move around in space, use silence, softness and sustains without fear of someone else crowding in to fill your space. As George said, “Open is not a practice, but a possibility. All you are required to do is to bring your own experience, concentrate on what’s at hand and be prepared to evaluate, come up with solutions, view ideas from multiple perspectives and state ideas from multiple points of view.”

Village Voice Jazz Critics’ Poll Best Records of 2006 #5

“Instead of treating the cut as an opportunity to vie for the spotlight, the three Chicago legends make themselves more or less indistinct, as if they were all part of the same droning, crackling instrument.”
— Brent Burton, JazzTimes

“Even if you weren’t aware that the participants jump-started Chicago’s legendary collective the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), their interplay unfolds with such cohesion and suspense that you know you’re in the presence of masters.”
— K. Leander Williams, TimeOut NY

“More of a way forward than a synthesis, this is one powerful session.”
— Jason Bivins, Dusted Magazine


released October 1, 2006

Muhal Richard Abrams - piano, bell, bamboo flute, taxi horn, percussion
George Lewis - trombone, laptop
Roscoe Mitchell - soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, percussion



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Muhal Richard Abrams Chicago, Illinois

Composer, arranger, and pianist Muhal Richard Abrams is largely a self-taught musician influenced by the bop innovations of Bud Powell. He has worked with everyone from Dexter Gordon and Max Roach to Ruth Brown and Woody Shaw. He has influenced the jazz community as a co-founder of Chicago’s legendary vanguard music institution, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). ... more

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