Abrams and Mitchell at Mills

Longtime AACM members Muhal Richard Abrams and Roscoe Mitchell have a show tomorrow at Mills College.

For nearly half a century, pianist Muhal Richard Abrams and saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell have been pushing boundaries as improvisers. For most of their lives they’ve been known as jazz guys. Abrams was the guiding light behind Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), a font of revolutionary ideas, especially back in the ’60s and ’70s, when the jazz avant-garde invaded the mainstream. Mitchell was the guiding spirit behind the most famous band to emerge from the AACM, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, which started as his group and had as its motto “Great Black Music: Ancient to the Future.”

Times change. Abrams and Mitchell are now often associated with a broader swathe of improvised contemporary music. When they play, “jazz” isn’t necessarily mentioned, even though these two continue to play with the same eccentric and intuitive abandon, matched somehow by a logical and brainy persistence, that always characterized their music.

Now, Mitchell holds the Darius Milhaud Chair in Composition at Mills College, where he joins Abrams on Friday for a night of duets in the school’s newly renovated Jeannik Mequet Littlefield Concert Hall. The concert is part of the Mills Music Festival 2009, a new music extravaganza running through April 5 and celebrating the hall’s opening. Abrams and Mitchell perform at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets: $20; $12 alumni, seniors and students. http://www.mills.edu/musicfestival.

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Mills College Music Series Starts Today

saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell at the Pomigliano ...
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If you’re in the Oakland area, stop by Mills:

Mills College will kick off opening night of its music series Saturday by honoring African-American performers and celebrating Black History Month.

The Mills Music Festival will feature pieces by Roscoe Mitchell, a leader in avant-garde jazz and contemporary music. They will be performed by Pauline Oliveros with Tony Martin; Terry Riley; Joseph Kubera and Joan Jeanrenaud.

The event, which runs through April, will be held inside the newly renovated Mills College Concert Hall. The music series will showcase cutting-edge contemporary musical performances that cross genres.

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Gordon / Parkins / Mori: Never-before-heard songs by a band that may never play again

Yoshimi P-We performing with the Boredoms at t...
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From the San Jose Mercury News:

Parkins and Mori, friends for the past two decades from Lower Manhattan’s avant-garde music scene, began working together as Phantom Orchard a few years ago. They initially focused on instrumental music, but their 2008 sophomore album, “Orra,” featured two guest vocalists.

So teaming with Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth for this project was a logical next step. When Parkins and Mori checked in on the phone on Friday, they already had arrived at Montalvo and were working out the basic settings for the music, building on some general ideas they had discussed back home. Gordon was scheduled to arrive earlier this week to add her lyrics, as well as her guitar.

“It’s sort of a natural extension of a direction we’ve been going in,” Parkins says. “Vocals have been slowly filtering into our music.”

The last pieces of the puzzle will be Yoshimi P-We, the drummer for the Japanese noise-rock band the Boredoms, and Trevor Dunn, the bassist for ’90s Northern California cult favorites Mr. Bungle. Yoshimi also plays with Gordon in Free Kitten, and Dunn has frequently crossed paths with the others since moving to New York in 2000, while playing with the likes of John Zorn.

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