One of the top saxophonists to come out of Chicago's AACM movement of the mid-'60s, Roscoe Mitchell is a particularly strong and consistently adventurous improviser long associated with the Art Ensemble of Chicago. After getting out of the military, Mitchell led a hard bop sextet in Chicago (1961) which gradually became much freer.
He was a member of Muhal Richard Abrams's Experimental Band and a founding member of the AACM in 1965. Mitchell's monumental Sound album (1966) introduced a new way of freely improvising, utilizing silence as well as high energy and little instruments as well as conventional horns. Lester Bowie and Malachi Favors were on that date and Mitchell's 1967 follow-up Old/Quartet.
With the addition of Joseph Jarman and Philip Wilson (who was later succeeded by Famoudou Don Moye), the Art Ensemble of Chicago was born. The colorful unit was one of the most popular groups in the jazz avant-garde and Mitchell was an integral part of the band. Roscoe Mitchell (who, in addition to his main horns, plays clarinet, flute, piccolo, oboe, baritone and bass saxophones) also was involved in individual projects through the years and has recorded as a leader for Delmark, Nessa, Sackville, Moers Music, 1750 Arch, Black Saint, Cecma and Silkheart in settings ranging from large ensembles to unaccompanied solo concerts.