Taking Notes: Discussing Music with Roscoe Mitchell & Rob Mazurek

extracted from an interview by Edmundo Clairefont by Damon Locks

photos by Damon Locks

In a hotel restaurant in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Rob Mazurek and Roscoe Mitchell sit down to talk about music with Edmundo Clairefont. Both Roscoe and Rob are composers, musicians and improvisers. Roscoe was a founding member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and tonight he is the featured guest in Rob Mazurek’s Exploding Star Orchestra.

Roscoe Mitchell:

Music and art functions at its best when it’s out amongst the people. For any style of music you are playing, music has always had its laws for how that style goes. You have to learn what the laws are, study those and keep improving yourself. I enjoy music where no one is responsible for keeping it going…where things can shift. Anybody can be the root. Ensembles building orchestral textures inside of an improvisation…I find that very interesting. There are certainly a lot of young people out there that want to get into some different things. I’ve talked to a lot of disillusioned college students that have gone to these ridged school systems and they come out and say “Now what?”  So many of them don’t have a real identity. One of the things you would like to develop is your own musical identity. A lot of the time, the ways schools exist, they get the students in there and they are trying to get them to live up to other people’s example. When you are doing that you are always behind. I am probably not going to be able to do what you do better than you. What I can do it learn from what you are doing and figure out my own way of doing what I’m doing. Once you tap into that, you tap into an endless resource of ideas. The things that come before us are there to learn from.  Art is bigger than all of us. It has it’s own laws and it’s own direction that its traveling. This is not a bad time for people that are serious about their work. If you want to break through this, go home and really get down. What are you gonna do? I am waiting to see what you’re gonna do? We just need to get back where people are really looking at something they want to do…not to be swayed by what comes along in between. Keep their own focus…out of that emerges something that turns out to be meaningful to everyone.  Music is a big study. It would take more than one lifetime to get to what I would like to get to in music.

Rob Mazurek:

Information is only information unless you experience it. When you experience it, it turns into a kind of knowledge right? A lot of people don’t have the patience. It’s just a matter of being honest with yourself. How much music do you make that gets thrown out…like 80%? A lot of people make stuff and say, “Oh I don’t listen to that.” My criteria for what I am doing is “Am I going to put this on, on my record player at home and listen to it?” That is why I started painting too. I wanted to paint something because I wanted something specific I could look at in my house. You know what I am saying?

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3 Comments

Filed under Interviews

3 responses to “Taking Notes: Discussing Music with Roscoe Mitchell & Rob Mazurek

  1. john

    Eloquently said, Roscoe. I think students/people at any age have to first learn “the laws” of something, connect and make sense with it, and then begin to start messing with it and making it their own.

    Finally, I am wondering-what exactly was the question that came before these two answers? Like “Music. Go.”

  2. Table & Chairs Music and Roscoe Mitchell are putting on a concert at Seattle’s Benaroya hall on June 7th, 2013. It will be the first ever concert dedicated to all different versions of Nonaah including Roscoe performing solo the world premier of his newest rendition of the piece. If you’d like to feature this event in your blog get in touch with us at contact@tableandchairsmusic.com

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