The Bridge #12 | May 2016, Chicago

Five times over, for this twelth Bridge: Nicole Mitchell and her flute arrows, the bubbling lava of Christophe Rocher’s clarinets, David Boykin’s avalanche saxophones and Lionel Garcin’s cascading ones, Christophe Rocher and the hydra of his trumpets. This will be a wind ensemble, a hive-like intelligence, five funambulists inevitably. Together, they will compose (improvise) a bouquet wrinkled by blows suddenly tempestuous, suddenly becalmed. It’s obvious their breaths will draw as many Rose of Winds, their wind instruments will also be music compasses. It will take one shift of air, a thousand and one shifts of air. A wind ensemble. And with the blown air moving, with this distillation of breaths, an imperceptible shift of the world’s axis, of its positions, of its dispositions, of its orientations. One may dream.

The poet Saint-John Perse had foreseen them, these “very great winds over all the face of this world / Very great winds rejoicing over the world, having neither eyrie nor resting-place.” These “very great winds questing over all the trails of this world / Over all things perishable, over all things graspable, throughout the entire world of things.” These “very great forces increasing over all trails of this world, rising from sources higher than our songs.” These winds “giving themselves license throughout the world – o entire world of things – and living on the crests of the future as though on the clay slopes of the potter.” For the air shapes things its own way, like the breath of matter embracing winds, voices, and spririts. There is not one breath of air, they are numerous and in so many directions. There is the silk of breath and the wheel of breath. The bone of breath. The bone or the ace of breath. There is the talisman of breath. The cristal ball of breath. The snow or coal of breath. The flame of breath. The is the sickle of breath, the hammer of breath, the axe of breath. There are the felines of breath. The hive of breath. The seam of breath. The unlocking of breath. The machination of breath. The dissent of breath. The purification of breath. The bud of breath. The vine of breath. There is the window of breath. The sun of breath. The sun or sunset of breath. The eye of breath. There is the silk of breath. “All the tools of breath,” according to the poet Ynnis Stìggas.

It is obvious, and will be the contrary, for improvisers in their palace always converge and diverge, like so many wind ensembles have taught us. For the recor, there were brass and trumpet ensembles (such as the late Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy Quartet), saxophone ensembles (such as the World Saxophone Quartet or the Rova Saxophone Quartet; such as, in France, Marc Baron, John Carter, Jean-Luc Guionnet, and Stéphane Rives’ saxophone quartet), clarinet ensembles (such as John Carter’s Clarinet Summit, Hamiet Bluiett’s Clarinet Family, Douglas R. Ewart’s Clarinet Choir; such as, in France, Watt), even flute ensembles (such as James Newton’s and Henry Threadgill’s Flute Force 4). Their Rose of Winds. Nicole Mitchell has always plated with David Boykin (she with him in the Expanse, he with her in the Black Earth Ensemble), and Christian Pruvost for almost as long with Christophe Rocher in the Circum Grand Orchestra. These past few years, Mitchell has several occasion to perform in France with Rocher, notably in the Third Coast Ensemble, while Boykin had the chance to perform with Pruvost during a North-American tour of Kaze, the Franch-Japanese ensemble. Rocher and Pruvost, with Lionel Garcin, have even squatted the altar of the Saint-Louis church in Brest. These five have little by little “taken, page after page, the control of all our windmills,” as recommended by the poet James Noël. Their music will be inhabitable like the world shifting its axis. One may dream.