Nicole Mitchell: Awakening (2011)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Flautist Nicole Mitchell is visionary. Her music clasps a wide panorama of styles and sounds in a constant quest for the new, as she opens up a sonic spectrum that moves from quiet interludes to scintillating rhythmic motifs.
Mitchell brings the flute up front on this CD, working with a quartet rather than the larger ensembles she has employed in the past. This gives the music intimacy yet, as with all of her recordings, has a tensile layer of sonic power.
"Momentum" one of the finest tunes finds Mitchell capturing myriad nuances in her approach. Even while in full flight she finds a certain rhythm that makes the tune dance. Into this come quick trills that flutter deliciously through the body. Jeff Parker is a consummate guitarist who can infuse a swell of imagination into anything of which he is a part. Here, he extends the melody, staying within tasteful confines, delivering singular lines and textured chords.
The mood on the luscious ballad , "F.O.C.," is quite different; dripping with honeyed melody, Mitchell is in the thick of the nectar, the ebb and flow of her flute making her an irresistible piper. Parker is, again, an effective cohort, while bassist Harrison Bankhead Sextet and drummer Avreeayl Ra complement with a steady beat. The foursome's interlocking raises the harmonic strength and torques the tune to attention.
A sense for bebop comes through Parker on "Journey on a Thread," the guitarist nudging the edges of the melody and then flitting back in again. Mitchell creates a haunting backdrop before the sound is fragmented, turning into curling wisps and breathy whooshes. Bankhead has his moment of inventive patterns before the melody settles in for a mainstream evocation, but not without some interjections that give the texture a more vibrant image.
Notch another winner for Mitchell, who is splendid in any setting.
Track Listing: Curly Top; Journey on a Thread; Center of the Earth; Snowflakes; Momentum; More Than I Can Say; there; F.O.C.; Awakening.
Personnel: Nicole Mitchell: flute; Jeff Parker: guitar; Harrison Bankhead: bass; Avreeayl Ra: drums, percussion.
Record Label: Delmark Records
Style: Modern Jazz