by Rachel Swan
Chicago-born free jazz saxophonist, Distinguished Darius Milhaud Professor of Music, and all-around idiosyncratic figure Roscoe Mitchell will premiere a series of new orchestral works at Mills College this Saturday, including pieces for string quartet, alto saxophone quartet, saxophone and piano, solo percussion, and chamber orchestra with opera vocal - baritone Thomas Buckner will sing a vocal composition based on the poem "Would You Wear My Eyes," by Beat writer Bob Kaufman. Mitchell is best known as a founding member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, both of which helped consolidate the avant-garde and improvised music scenes that were blooming in Chicago during the 1960s.
During a half-hour interview segment on KQED's Forum program this morning, Mitchell discussed his teaching methodology and creative approach with respect to improvisation, and how he's imported concepts from classical composition to the world of free jazz. He also laid out some personal credos - namely, that silence is as important as sound, and that "freedom" actually requires a heightened level of self-discipline. Mitchell performs at Mills College Littlefield Concert Hall (5000 Macarthur Blvd., Oakland) this Saturday, Mar. 31, 8 p.m., $15 general admission or $10 for students. He'll come to Yoshi's (500 Embarcadero, Oakland) on Monday, Apr. 16, 8 p.m., $10 for students, $20 for everyone else.
Here he is at 24th Street Theatre in Sacramento on February 25, 2010: