The Lab

The Lab is a nonprofit experimental art and performance space located in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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Roscoe Mitchell Quartet


 Photo: Joseph Blough

Photo: Joseph Blough

8pm Doors / 8:30pm Show
$25 Guests / $20 for Members
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The Lab will host saxophonist and composer Roscoe Mitchell and his quartet with Ambrose Akinmusire, Junius Paul and Vincent Davis. The project marks Mitchell’s last performance in before he returns to Madison, Wisconsin, celebrating his eleven-year contribution to the Bay Area as the Darius Milhaud Chair of Composition at Mills College. An iconoclastic figure in contemporary music whose work ranges from classical to contemporary, from wild and forceful free jazz to ornate chamber music, Mitchell is an internationally renowned musician, composer, and innovator.

“If one wants to be a good improviser, one has to know how composition works so one can execute it in real time. Therefore, it is imperative to study composition and improvisation as a parallel. Music is 50 percent sound and 50 percent silence. If one sits down and listens to nothing but silence in a very quiet place, it's very intense. So, when one interrupts that silence with a sound, one must make sure that the sound has the same intensity as the silence. When this is achieved, sound and silence start to work together opening doors to multiple choices that should always exist in good improvisation and composition. When writing a composition, one is given more time to make these selections. Improvising in real time, one must be able to make these selections spontaneously. I strive to incorporate these elements in my work and have found them to be extremely helpful." – Roscoe Mitchell, 2014

Roscoe Mitchell serves as the Darius Milhaud Chair of Composition at Mills College. His virtuosic resurrection of overlooked woodwind instruments spanning extreme registers, visionary solo performances, and assertion of a hybrid compositional/improvisational paradigm have placed him at the forefront of contemporary music. Mr. Mitchell is a founding member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and the Trio Space. He is also distinguished as the founder of the Creative Arts Collective, The Roscoe Mitchell Sextet & Quartet, The Roscoe Mitchell Art Ensemble, The Sound Ensemble, The New Chamber Ensemble, and the Note Factory.

His instrumental expertise includes the gamut of the saxophone and recorder families, clarinet, flute, piccolo, and the transverse flute in addition to his elaborate invention, the Percussion Cage (consisting of instruments from five continents and found objects). His oeuvre boasts hundreds of albums and original works, ranging from passionate, forceful improvisations to ornate orchestral music. His vast discography includes “Sound” (1966, 5-star review in DownBeat Magazine), “People in Sorrow” (1969, with the AEOC), “Nonaah” (1977, DownBeat Magazine Record of the Year), “Bells for the South Side” (2017, featured as one of the NYTimes's best jazz albums of the year) and “Discussions” (distinguished on the NYTimes's list of 2017's best classical albums). His works have been premiered by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Del Teatro Comunale Di Bologna, the SEM Ensemble, the Orchestra Banda, Montreal-Toronto Art Orchestra and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. He has performed and/or recorded with Craig Taborn, Jack DeJohnette, Mike Reed, Tyshawn Sorey, George Lewis, Anthony Braxton, Vijay Iyer, Henry Threadgill, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Thomas Buckner amongst countless others.

Mitchell’s honors include the Doris Duke Artist Award (2014), a CMA Presenting Jazz grant (2010), and grants from The National Endowment for the Arts and Meet the Composer. Roscoe was further granted The Doris Duke Audience Development Fund (a separate fund which extends the Artist Award, put towards audience development for his residency at the Museum of Contemporary art) and The Shifting Foundation Grant (which made possible exquisite audio and video recordings of the residency's proceedings).

He is currently working on a large-scale orchestral work entitled “Useful News,” commissioned by the Ensemble intercontemporain, to be premiered in Paris on January 20th, 2019. Additionally, he celebrates two 50-year anniversaries this decade: the AACM's in 2015, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago's in 2019. To honor the history of the ensemble and the legacy of Lester Bowie, Joseph Jarman, and Malachi Favors Maghostut; Mr. Mitchell and Famoudou Don Moye will embark on an ambitious tour showcasing thirteen musicians of the highest caliber. Of course, these efforts are conducted in tandem with his lifelong dedication to the art of small group and solo performance, which is what he'll demonstrate with Ambrose Akinmusire, Junius Paul and Vincent Davis at The Lab.

Earlier Event: December 5
Beam Splitter & Voicehandler
Later Event: December 21
Mic at Midnight