Home » Jazz Articles » Artifacts: Tomeka Reid, Nicole Mitchell, Mike Reed: …and then ther...

Album Review

Artifacts: Tomeka Reid, Nicole Mitchell, Mike Reed: …and then there’s this


Sign in to view read count
Artifacts: Tomeka Reid, Nicole Mitchell, Mike Reed: …and then there’s this
For the follow up to the excellent debut Artifacts (482 Music, 2015), the stellar threesome of cellist Tomeka Reid, flautist Nicole Mitchell, and drummer Mike Reed waxes another outstanding album, but one which differs in two respects. Firstly this time out the emphasis is on the compositional smarts of the crew rather than a celebration of their forebears in Chicago's esteemed AACM. Secondly, as Mitchell elucidates, this collection is also more focused on the groove. But neither is a dramatic departure. Two works from the AACM canon sit alongside two joint pieces dedicated to departed elders from the organization. And in any case the earlier record had its fair share of foot tapping moments too.

Of the remaining cuts in the 38-minute program, two each stem from the pens of Mitchell and Reid, with another from Reed, although everyone has a hand in the arrangements. Mitchell once again establishes why she is one of the premier exponents of her instrument, supplementing her agile lines with vocal inflections, controlled overblowing and judicious use of electronics. In this outfit Reid handles what might be the bass role, anchoring with insistent figures and counterpoint, but also then exploits the cello's range with flowing arco melodies, hushed harmonics and abrasive swipes. But no matter how far they stretch the envelope, Reed always creates inventive and transparent beats to maintain buoyancy and mobility.

"Pleasure Palace" kicks off the disc with a locomotive vim, as Reid evokes improvising cello progenitor Abdul Wadud, which doesn't let up even during Reed's drum break. He takes the spotlight again to take out the jaunty swagger of "In Response To" with a cleanly articulated tumble, after Mitchell's thrilling solo. An infectious energy pervades the entire set. But pick of the originals is the poignant "Song For Helena," where they come closest to the chamber stylings the instrumentation might suggest until Reed's brushed shuffle ushers the group out of the drawing room and into the dancehall for some exquisite lyrical variations from first flute then cello.

They give Muhal Richard Abrams' "Soprano Song" a supercharged run out, and set Roscoe Mitchell's "No Side Effects" to a reggae beat, with Reid sawing funkily. Even on the collectives there's a pulse. On the suitably rhythmic "A.F." dedicated to drummer Alvin Fielder, after the atmospheric intro of Mitchell's bass flute bleats and overtones, Reed lays down a gently rolling cadence while Reid extemporizes a riff, while on "J.J.," for reedman Joseph Jarman, they fashion a restrained ethereal dirge.

Full of irresistible beats, attractive tunes, savvy arrangements and top notch playing, the Artifacts Trio shows that artistry and fun can high five without compromise.

Track Listing

Pleasure Palace; A.F.; Blessed; In Response To; Reflections; Song For Helena; Soprano Song; J.J.; No Side Effects.


Tomeka Reid: cello; Nicole Mitchell: flute; Mike Reed: drums.

Album information

Title: …and then there’s this | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Astral Spirits

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment about this album



Albare & Co.
Fire Hills
Olie Brice Trio / Octet
Far Horizons
Brian Auger and the Trinity


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.