Sound (Roscoe Mitchell album)

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Sound (Roscoe Mitchell album).jpg
Studio album by Roscoe Mitchell
Released 1966 (1966)
Recorded August 10–26, 1966
Studio Sound Studios
Genre Free jazz, avant-garde[1]
Length 50:16
Label Delmark
Producer Robert G. Koester
Roscoe Mitchell chronology
Before There Was Sound
(2011)Before There Was Sound2011

Sound is the debut album by free jazz saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, recorded in 1966 and released on the Delmark label. It features performances by Mitchell, Lester Bowie, Malachi Favors, Maurice McIntyre, Lester Lashley and Alvin Fielder. The CD reissue includes two takes of "Sound", which were edited together to form the original LP version, and an alternative take of "Ornette".

According to Alvin Fielder, "[the] music was rehearsed. It sounds unrehearsed but it was that loose...For Sound, we rehearsed four to five days per week...It took us two recording days to do Sound and it went well."[2]


The Penguin Guide to Jazz selected the album as part of its suggested Core Collection.[3]

The Allmusic review by Steve Huey awarded the album 5 stars, stating, "Structurally, Sound heralded a whole new approach to free improvisation; where most previous free jazz prized an unrelenting fever pitch of emotion, Sound was full of wide-open spaces between instruments, an agreeably rambling pace in between the high-energy climaxes, and a more abstract quality to its solos. Steady rhythmic pulses were mostly discarded in favor of collective, spontaneous dialogues and novel textures (especially with the less orthodox instruments, which had tremendous potential for flat-out weird noises). Simply put, it's an exploration of pure sound."[4]

The album was identified by Chris Kelsey in his Allmusic essay "Free Jazz: A Subjective History" as one of the 20 Essential Free Jazz Albums.[5]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Penguin Guide to Jazz 4/4 stars[3]
Allmusic 5/5 stars[4]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide 5/5 stars[6]


The album's influence on other improvisers was considerable: "Sound's concepts of texture, space, and interaction would shortly be expanded upon in classic recordings by Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and others; the repercussions from its expansion of free jazz's tonal and emotional palettes are still being felt".[4]

Track listing[edit]

Original LP[edit]

All compositions by Roscoe Mitchell

Side One

  1. "Ornette – 5:22
  2. "The Little Suite" – 10:20

Side Two

  1. "Sound" – 21:30

CD Reissue[edit]

  1. "Ornette" [alternative take] – 5:44
  2. "Sound 1" – 26:36
  3. "The Little Suite" – 10:27
  4. "Ornette" – 5:29
  5. "Sound 2" – 19:24



  1. ^
  2. ^ Weiss, Ken (Jan–Mar 2017). "Alvin Fiedler [sic] - Maybe Not New But Something Different". Cadence Magazine. Portland, Oregon: Cadence Media LLC. 43 (1 (421)): 81. ISSN 0162-6973. 
  3. ^ a b Cook, Richard; Brian Morton (2008). "Roscoe Mitchell". The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (9th ed.). New York: Penguin. p. 1011. ISBN 978-0-14-103401-0. 
  4. ^ a b c Huey, S. Allmusic Review accessed September 27, 2011.
  5. ^ Kelsey, C. Free Jazz: A Subjective History accessed December 7, 2009
  6. ^ Swenson, J. (Editor) (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 142. ISBN 0-394-72643-X.