Down Beat Magazine (Conversations 1 & 2)

Multireedist Roscoe Mitchell is well into his 70s, but coasting just isn’t on his agenda. These two albums, which are products of the same two-day session, reflect a recent strategy in which the master woodwind player has matched up with much younger drummers who have some concepts of their own. Like drummer Mike Reed and multi-instrumentalist Weasel Walter, both of whom he has played with in the past year, Kikanju Baku, the percussionist on this session, is a player who makes things happen. Possessed of both manic energy and a fine instinct for restraint, he articulates elaborate shapes that sound like they owe as much to prog rock as to any radition of improvisation.
Mitchell takes to their convolution like a duck to water; his own playing is all sharp angles, coarse cries and pitches so acrid, they seem to have been set alight by Baku’s ferocity. Taborn’s piano runs match Mitchell’s lines in momentum and persistence, but he also has good instincts for when to hold back; there are long passages where he plays sparsely or not at all. His other keyboards add subliminal textures and tonal variety without once lapsing into mere novelty.
Both of these CDs are remarkably consistent; the engagement and invention never flags, which makes it hard to favor one over the other. Honor also goes out to the session engineers, Gregory Howe and Jimmy Fontana. Not only is the sound crisp and immaculate, it imparts a spacial experience that makes it feel like the music is happening all around the listener.

Bill Meyer