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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble: Intergalactic Beings

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Intergalactic Beings forms the second chapter in flutist Nicole Mitchell's science fiction derived discographical strand. Like the first, Xenogenesis Suite (Firehouse 12, 2008), it showcases Mitchell the composer, again drawing her inspiration from the Afrofuturist novels of Octavia Butler, in which survivors of nuclear holocaust are plucked from earth by aliens who believe that interbreeding is the only way to save the humans from themselves. Commissioned by the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, the recording documents the premier at the institution in April 2010. Inevitably given the subject matter, this results in another performance rich in mystery and ominous brooding ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joelle Leandre / Nicole Mitchell: Sisters Where

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Sisters Where forms another installment in the fertile collaboration between French bassist Joëlle Léandre and American flutist Nicole Mitchell, following on from Before After (Rogue Art, 2011) and Flowing Stream (Leo Records, 2014). One enduring feature of the pairing is the attractive opposition of high and low ends represented by their respective axes, although of course Léandre can effortlessly traverse that divide with her virtuosic bow handling. What further helps make the session work so well is that each includes a healthy dose of lyricism in their discourse, alongside more extended techniques. But it is their sense of improvisatory fun ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nicole Mitchell: Engraved In The Wind

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As a musician, flutist Nicole Mitchell brooks no constraints to her artistry. Not content with large scale orchestral works, such as Arc of O (Rogue Art, 2012), small group interaction with her Indigo Trio and mid-sized ensembles exemplified by her Black Earth Ensemble on Three Compositions (Rogue Art, 2013), she now takes on the ultimate challenge for the single line instrumentalist: the solo album. Of course, it's a misnomer to suggest that Mitchell can only follow one tack at once, as her prowess with multiphonics created by simultaneously using her voice and flute means that she often evinces two or ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Denis Fournier / Nicole Mitchell: Watershed

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Flautist Nicole Mitchell has found a supportive outlet in the Paris-based Rogue Art imprint, with her past outings including Anaya (2009), Emerald Hills (2010), The Ethiopian Princess Meets The Tantric Priest (2012) and Arc Of O (2012), and she is the most well-known name on Watershed. However she sits second in the billing below French percussionist Denis Fournier who contributes three out of five originals on the 51-minute 2011 concert recording from Junas in southern France. A long-time aficionado of Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Music, Fournier first made acquaintance with its members back in 1985 through Kahil ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Nicole Mitchell: Arc Of O

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Nicole MitchellArc Of ORogue Art2012Subtitled “for improvisers, chamber orchestra and electronics," flutist Nicole Mitchell's genre-busting Arc Of O resonates a little with the almost forgotten Third Stream. Coined by composer/educator Gunther Schuller as a term for a synthesis of classical music and jazz at the end of the 1950s, the label has been subsumed within the jazz world's ever increasing eclecticism which sees all cultures as fair game. Some of the first improvisers to admit their influences hailed as much from contemporary classicism as the jazz tradition were among the early members ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nicole Mitchell: Awakening

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This is could be called flautist Niicole Mitchell's first blowing date, although the rarefied nature of her music renders the term only loosely applicable. It's true that, in working with a quartet, she's created the right circumstances for music more reflective of the tradition to happen, but the results are no mere reiteration of a fading blueprint--thanks, in no small part, to guitarist Jeff Parker, the catalyst which sparks the revolutionary nature of this program There are echoes of Eric Dolphy's later music in the brief “Snowflakes," but its brevity sadly ensures that it doesn't evolve much. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nicole Mitchell: Awakening

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nicole Mitchell: Awakening

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Flautist Nicole Mitchell's generous improvisational abilities are at the musical heart of Awakening. Not only does she move effortlessly from single-note lines and sliding honks to wispy, soft timbres, but she is equally comfortable moving from pure melodic phrasing to more experimental, free content. Coupled with an exceptional trio backing, Mitchell's album crackles with infectious spontaneity. Her music manages to be at once reflective and energetic, accessible as well as clever. “Curly Top" kicks of the set in a laidback groove, with splendid give and take between lead flute and guitarist Jeff Parker's fluid comping. In fact, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nicole Mitchell's Sonic Projections: Emerald Hills

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In some ways Chicago-based flautist Nicole Mitchell's Emerald Hills resembles an old style AACM record: there's an adventurous spirit, a diversity of approaches, and chops to burn. More recent reference points include Mitchell's own Xenogenesis Suite (Firehouse 12, 2008) but (largely) without the challenging vocals. Joining Mitchell in the quartet she calls Sonic Projections, are long time associate David Boykins on tenor saxophone, Craig Taborn on piano and Chad Taylor behind the traps. A lot of detail is rammed into the 71-minute program. Mitchell's writing frames opportunities for exploring all the combinations inherent in the band, often with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nicole Mitchell's Sonic Projections: Emerald Hills

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All four of flutist Nicole Mitchell's groups reveal specific tangents which her music can follow. One of those groups--Sonic Projections, whose evolution grew out of paying tribute to George Lewis' book A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music (University of Chicago Press, 2008)--shows what Mitchell believes to be her rebellious side. Mitchell is herself a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Music (AACM).

Sonic Projections consists of Mitchell, pianist Craig Taborn, tenor saxophonist David Boykin, and drummer Chad Taylor. There is no bass. Emerald Hills projects a thinking person's music.

The music is ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Nicole Mitchell: Renegades, Anaya, Collective Creativity

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Nicple Mitchell's Black Earth Strings Renegades Delmark 2009 Indigo Trio Anaya Rogue Art 2009 Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Collective Creativity 3 Sixteen Records 2009

To call Nicole Mitchell the preeminent jazz flutist working in jazz today would be too limiting. Amid the remarkably fertile Chicago scene, she has distinguished herself as a top instrumentalist, composer, leader and musical ambassador, as well as ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Strings: Renegades

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Here's where Nicole Mitchell's art comes together. Whereas her previous releases could have been marked by the perhaps inevitable signs of individuality coming into being, here the overall coherence of the music is extraordinary, aided in no small part by her choice of cohorts and their evidently strong commitment to group identity and singular music possessed of infinite variety and shades. In short, both Mitchell and the Black Earth Strings have come of age.

The knowledge of it starts from the bottom up, so to speak. Drummer and percussionist Shirazette Tinnin is a player after the nature of Famoudou Don ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Strings: Renegades

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Flutist Nicole Mitchell has been earning much deserved praise as of late for her various Chicago-based projects. Mitchell was voted Jazz Flutist of the Year in 2008 by the Jazz Journalist Association and in 2006 the Chicago Tribune named her Chicagoan of the Year. On Renegades, Mitchell's second release for Delmark Records, the Co-President of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) takes the listener on a fun, unpredictable ride with her boisterous Black Earth Strings quintet, consisting of violinist/violist Renee Baker, percussionist Shirazette Tinnin, bassist Josh Abrams, and cellist Tomeka Reid. Abrams and Reid both ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Strings: Renegades

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Chicago-based flutist, composer and bandleader Nicole Mitchell has presented her impressive skills in a wide range of contexts, from the intimate Indigo Trio with bassist Harrison Bankhead and drummer Hamid Drake to her flagship band, the Black Earth Ensemble. The later has demonstrated a remarkable ability to move from the eclectic modern jazz of Black Unstoppable (Delmark, 2007), to the harrowing futurism of Xenogenesis Suite: A Tribute to Octavia Butler (Firehouse 12, 2008). She has also contributed her enviable talents to Anthony Braxton's 12tet, the collective quartet Frequency and Rob Mazurek's Exploding Star Orchestra.

Renegades is the premier ...



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