Roscoe Mitchell & Detroit Friends





Roscoe Mitchell & Detroit Friends



  • Roscoe Mitchell, saxophone
  • Tony Holland, saxophones/other instruments
  • Skeeter Shelton, saxophones/other instruments
  • A. Spencer Barefield, guitar
  • Kenneth Green, piano
  • Stephen Rush, piano
  • Jeribu Shahid, bass
  • Djallo Djakate, drums

Event Details

Times and dates of performances are subject to change.

The Art Ensemble of Chicago is a musical entity that evolved from founder Roscoe Mitchell's musical vision, explorations and adventurous collaborations in Chicago of the early and mid sixties.

The Art Ensemble of Chicago is renowned for its integration of musical styles that span the history of jazz and multi instrumental group improvisations. Their musical universe is enhanced by the creative use of unique sounds and percussions-aka little instruments, traditional hand and stick drums, whistles, horns, bells, chimes, vibes, marimba, gongs of all sizes and an array of home made and found sound objects that serve each individual musician as an extension of their personality on their principal instruments of saxophones, flutes, trumpet and flugelhorn, double bass and drum set. Their live performances of original compositions written by all the members have also included elaborate costumes, face paint, props, theater, poetry, dance and more to create a visual, auditory and sensual spectacle.

Throughout the 60’s, the members of The Art Ensemble of Chicago performed and recorded in numerous groups under various names. After critical acclaim in the national and international jazz press for their personal performances and recordings, Roscoe Mitchell, Joseph Jarman, Lester Bowie and Malachi Favors decided to continue their musical adventures and travelled together to Paris in 1969 where they became known as The Art Ensemble of Chicago, an extension of the original Roscoe Mitchell Art Ensemble. Upon their arrival in Paris they were immediately contracted to perform a one month engagement at the legendary Theatre Lucernaire in Montparnasse. They also performed numerous concerts throughout France and proceeded to record albums as a group and individually in collaboration with the many important American musicians on the Paris scene in that period.

In 1970, the group recorded the sound track for the French film «Les Stances à Sophie» a cult classic featuring the voice of Fontella Bass and which was the first recording with new drummer Don Moye. In 1971, the group returned to United States as a quintet and began their six decade history of performances and recordings on the international jazz circuit.

The group has released more than 70 live performances, studio recordings, videos and DVDs on a variety of labels including Atlantic Records, ECM Records, Disk Union, Nessa Records, Delmark Records, Pi Recordings and their own label AECO Recordsfounded in 1975.

The personnel of The Art Ensemble of Chicago has changed several times with the early retirement and return of Joseph Jarman, the death of Lester Bowie in 1999 and the death of Malachi Favors in 2004. The willingness to support each member's individual musical interests and personal goals continues to contribute to this group's amazing longevity.

See our Edgefest page for more information about the festival. 

Additional support for Edgefest is made possible in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Art Works.

Roscoe Mitchell

Chicago born saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Roscoe Mitchell is one of the great innovators in creative music of the post-Coltrane, post-Ayler era. Having begun his musical studies as a teenager, he played in an Army band in Germany (where he jammed with Albert Ayler) and after returning to Chicago further developed his skills at Wilson Junior College where he encountered many of the musicians with whom he would work in the years to come, including Malachai Favors and Joseph Jarman and became an early member of the AACM. His 1966 album Sound was the first recording by any AACM group. In 1967 he co-founded the Art Ensemble of Chicago (originally the Roscoe Mitchell Art Ensemble) and this group, with its motto “Great Black Music, Ancient to the Future,” has carried the message of the AACM all over the globe for half a century. Over the years, Mitchell has pursued other projects, exploring different instrument combinations and developing his instrumental as well as compositional skills, spanning the gamut from completely improvised to fully notated compositions for groups of various sizes. His works explore diverse forms, ideas and concepts various instrument combinations, including electronics while his instrumental expertise extends through the full range of the saxophone and recorder families, as well as the flute, piccolo and clarinet. While living in Wisconsin, he co-founded the Creative Arts Collective (CAC) with students from Detroit who were studying at Western Michigan University. Several of them are featured in this CAC reunion tonight.

Tony Holland

Saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Tony Holland was a founding member of the CAC and was a of the front line of Detroit’s legendary Griot Galaxy. Holland has been featured on numerous recordings, including several from the eighties with A. Spencer Barefield and fellow Griot percussionist Tani Tabbal, some of which have recently been re-issued as part of the Beneath Detroit series. In 1984 the trio played at the Nickelsdorf festival in Austria; their performance was recorded and issued on Sound Aspects. Moreover, all three members, together with Faruq Z. Bey and Jeribu Shahid, performed as part of the Roscoe Mitchell / Anthony Braxton Creative Orchestra. His most recent project was a multi-media tribute to Eric Dolphy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.

Skeeter Shelton

Saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist and composer Skeeter Shelton has played with the 70th Division Army Reserve Band for over 25 years. An early member of the CAC, he is currently a member of Speaking in Tongues and is one of the founding members of Griot Galaxy, playing and recording alongside Farouk Z Bey in other groups but also leading his own units. His father Ajaramu Shelton played drums with Gene Ammons and Sun Ra and was associated with the AACM. A versatile musician, he can play in any context, as evidenced by his years on the road with soul singer Joe Tex, but his main associations have been with more experimental music, be it as a leader or in bands like the Vizitors (with Deshun Mosley and Kenneth Green).

A. Spencer Barefield

Composer/guitarist A. Spencer Barefield has worked musicians such as Lester Bowie, Roscoe Mitchell, Oliver Lake, Richard Davis, Andrew Cyrille, James Carter, and Regina Carter. His compositions have been commissioned by Meet the Composer: Commissioning Music/USA and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. For many years, Barefield has served as CAC’s Artistic-Executive Director and has organized and produced countless concerts, recordings, educational programs, and tours. From 1979-1992, Creative Music at the DIA, a concert series produced by Barefield and CAC at the Detroit Institute of Arts that received the Governor’s Arts Award.

Kenneth Green

Over a career spanning more than 30 years, pianist, composer and Kenneth Green has performed nationally and internationally with Roscoe Mitchell, Leroy Jenkins, Dr. Salim Washington, Douglas Ewart, Dr. Morris Lawrence, Malachi Favors, Donald Washington, Fred Anderson, Don Moye, Faruq Z. Bey, Edward Wilkerson, Harrison Bankhead, and many others. Nominated “Outstanding Jazz Pianist” in the Detroit Metro Music awards, Green was a founding member of CAC and serves as the principal composer for the Vizitors. In addition, he is the executive and artistic director for the Cosmic Music Community, a regional collective of Afro Futurist Jazz musicians who engage the principles of community restoration, self-worth, healthy living and unity.

Stephen Rush

Stephen Rush is a Professor at the University of Michigan, where he directs the Digital Music Ensemble. Rush has had premieres in five continents, released over thirty CD’s, and written numerous articles and books, most recently Free Jazz, Harmolodics, and Ornette Coleman. Rush has composed five operas, chamber music, orchestra works, and over a hundred and fifty scores for dancers. As a performer, he has worked with artists such as Henry Grimes, Steve Swell, Eugene Chadbourne, Pauline Oliveros, with “Blue” Gene Tyranny, and with the late Peter Kowald. He is the director of the Digital Music Ensemble (DME) at the University of Michigan. His collaborations with Roscoe Mitchell are documented on several recordings, most recently on the 2017 Four Ways, a collaboration with the Yuganaut trio featuring Tom Abbs, and Geoff Mann.

Jeribu Shahid

Bassist Jaribu Shahid grew up in Detroit, playing with Kenn Cox, Wendell Harrison, Jimmy Wilkins, J.C. Heard, Martha and the Vandellas and others, eventually joining Griot Galaxy. He moved to Philadelphia and lived with the core of the Sun Ra Arkestra with whom he played intermittently until the leader’s passing. He began to work in various groups directed by Roscoe Mitchell and to work with some of the major players in jazz, including Milt Jackson, James Carter, David Murray, Geri Allen, Craig Taborn, and Hugh Ragin. After Malachi Favors passed, he was invited to join the Art Ensemble of Chicago.

Djallo Djakate

Born in Detroit, drummer/percussionist Djallo Keita Djakate is one of the most dynamic and sought-after sidemen on the Detroit scene. He comfortably works in many idioms, from traditional jazz, through avant-garde, funk reggae, and traditional New Orleans music as well as Afro-Cuban and African drumming. He has toured the U.S. and Europe, performing with such diverse artists as Martha Reeves, Harrold McKinney, A. Spencer Barefield, Taslimah Bey, Charles Gabriel, and with the group Straight Ahead.