All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

244

Nicole Mitchell's Sonic Projections: Emerald Hills

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
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 the flautist taking a back seat. In particular it provides a great showcase for Boykins who boasts one of the largest tenor sounds this side of David S. Ware, but doesn't too often get the chance to prove it. Taborn also benefits from the generous solo space whether propounding angular pyrotechnics or endowing his hands with independent motion at opposite ends of the keyboard.

Mitchell displays her distinctively expressionistic approach to the flute, whereby her blown multiphonics are expanded by vocalizations in symbiotic interweaving, for added emotional kick. Overlapping voices open the portentous "Ritual and Rebellion," recalling similar gambits by Muhal Richard Abrams and the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, while Mitchell's naïf, half-spoken lyrics enter the mix on "Affirmations." Fortunately for those who prefer to avoid vocals, such moments are few and do not detract from the heavyweight instrumental work, and the piece develops intensity with darting flute, Taborn in full flight and Boykins slow burning tenor preaching.

Flute and tenor saxophone harmonics intermingle on "Wild Life," Boykins squeaks in contrast to buzzing growls from Mitchell in a striking role reversal. Taylor gets down in a series of duets, sandwiched between edgy themes, on "Chocolate Chips," where his earthy drums ground the leader's spiraling declamations. Taborn shines on the title track, his ringing piano shadowing Taylor's choppy clatter as the horns juxtapose a repeated unison, getting wilder until a grinding halt. "Peace" is all wavering overtones and single struck notes, forming a palate cleansing finale to one of Mitchell's strongest albums.

Track Listing: Visitations; Ritual and Rebellion; Chocolate Chips; Wild Life; Wishes; Emerald Hills; Surface of Syrius; Affirmations; Peace.

Personnel: Nicole Mitchell: flute, alto flute, piccolo, vocals; Craig Taborn: piano; David Boykin: tenor saxophone; Chad Taylor: drum set.

Title: Emerald Hills | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Rogue Art

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read iQba - Jazz Meets Cuban Timba CD/LP/Track Review
iQba - Jazz Meets Cuban Timba
by Troy Dostert
Published: October 21, 2018
Read Globe Unity - 50 Years CD/LP/Track Review
Globe Unity - 50 Years
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2018
Read Murals CD/LP/Track Review
Murals
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 21, 2018
Read Accelerator CD/LP/Track Review
Accelerator
by Doug Collette
Published: October 21, 2018
Read Little Big CD/LP/Track Review
Little Big
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: October 21, 2018
Read Shades CD/LP/Track Review
Shades
by Doug Collette
Published: October 20, 2018
Read "44/876" CD/LP/Track Review 44/876
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 15, 2018
Read "Interstellar Adventures" CD/LP/Track Review Interstellar Adventures
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: June 6, 2018
Read "Where We Stand" CD/LP/Track Review Where We Stand
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 23, 2018
Read "Thicker Than Water" CD/LP/Track Review Thicker Than Water
by Chris Mosey
Published: July 13, 2018
Read "Selective Coverage" CD/LP/Track Review Selective Coverage
by Jim Olin
Published: September 20, 2018
Read "Atwood Suites" CD/LP/Track Review Atwood Suites
by Paul Rauch
Published: September 6, 2018