Flutist Nicole Mitchell, cellist Tomeka Reid and drummer Mike Reed are three of the most prominent members of the third generation of Association for Advancement of Creative Music (AACM). Each one is a consummate musician; equally adept at composing and improvising. Each one of them has forged their boldly unique artistic path with an instantly recognizable sound
Their collaborative album Artifacts is a compelling and exquisite work that augments their innovative individual styles with a superb almost telepathic camaraderie. On it they interpret nine gems penned by other AACM members.
The trio reconstructs pianist Muhal Richard Abrams' gripping "Munkt Munk" with taut and crystalline harmonic structures. Out of this tense and angular musical framework emerge stimulating exchanges with hints of free flowing dissonance.
The dynamic tracks are filled vibrant performances that are woven intimately into the fabric of the compositions. Drummer Steve McCall's "B.K.," for instance, has an undercurrent of eastern romanticism. Within it Mitchell's incandescent lines flow as they alternate between cool indigo glow and fiery spontaneous flourishes. The tune also has a pulsating core that Reid's walking lines and Reed's percussive beats build. The latter takes an exciting and thunderous solo that ushers in the energetic conclusion.
A definite primal spirituality imbues the "medley" of saxophonist Fred Anderson's "Bernice" and guitarist Jeff Parker's "Days Fly By With Ruby." Reed's raw thumping kit, Mitchell's howling flute and Reid's wailing strings open this composite piece as it transforms from a mystical chant to a quietly melancholic song. Mitchell and Reid intone long, mournful lines over Reed's percolating, visceral rhythm. Mitchell and Reid and cello engage in a, delightfully atonal, circular improvisation that is filled with both passion and angst. The duet gradually takes on a bittersweet boppish tone with Mitchell and Reid trading crisp and clever phrases with a mellifluous edge.
Expressive and frantic at times, tender and impressionistic at others this cohesive and fascinating record is a reflection of a shared artistic vision. One that not only brings together three contemporary masters of extemporized music but also spans half a century and defines an intrepid and revolutionary movement that keeps going strong.
Composition 23B; Jo Jar; Bernice / Days Fly By with Ruby; Clowns; Have Mercy on Us;
BK; I'll Be Right Here Waiting; Munkt Munk; Light On The Path.
Nicole Mitchell: flutes, electronics; Tomeka Reid: cello; Mike Reed: drums.
A young artist exhibits his work for the first time. An art critic is in attendance. The critic says, "would you like my opinion on your work?" "Yes," says the artist. "It's worthless," says the critic. The artist replies "I know, but tell me anyway."