"One of Chicago's more inspiring jazz visionaries, " (Chicago Tribune), Nicole Mitchell is a creative instrumentalist, composer, bandleader and an educator. With her ensembles, and as a featured flutist, she has been a highlight at art venues and festivals throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. A recent recipient of the 2011 Alpert Award and a former president of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Nicole Mitchell explores new sounds and creative techniques as a flutist and as a composer. She has performed with creative luminaries including George Lewis, Miya Masaoka, Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, Myra Melford, Orbert Davis, Lori Freedman and Muhal Richard Abrams. One of very few African American women jazz instrumentalists, Mitchell also works on ongoing projects with Hamid Drake, David Boykin, Ed Wilkerson, Dee Alexander, Rob Mazurek, Harrison Bankhead and Arveeayl Ra. Mitchell was honored to be charted #1 in Downbeat magazine Critic’s Poll for Flutist 2010, Flutist of the Year 2010 by Jazz Journalists Association and was named "Chicagoan of the Year 2006" by the Chicago Tribune. Black Earth Ensemble (BEE), and Black Earth Strings (BES), founded by Mitchell, are forums for her compositions and creative vision. Nicole Mitchell is also a recipient of the Illinois Arts Council fellowship for music composition (2005, 2002). Mitchell has been commissioned by the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, Chamber Music America, Ravinia, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the Chicago Jazz Festival and the Jazz Institute of Chicago. Mitchell also does a variety of residencies, workshops and panel discussions in Europe, Canada and the U.S. with a focus on creative music.
Black Earth Ensemble (BEE), founded by Mitchell in 1997, is a forum for her compositions and creative vision. BEE is a multi-genre, multi-generational celebration of the African American cultural legacy. Black Earth Ensemble has performed at the Sons d'hiver Festival (Paris), Guelph Festival (Canada), Le Labbre Nude Festival (Rome), Kerava Jazz Festival (Finland), Mito Festival (Milan) and Nouve Forme Festival (Verona). With Black Earth Ensemble, Mitchell has recorded three critically acclaimed CDs: Vision Quest (Dreamtime), Afrika Rising (Dreamtime), Hope, Future and Destiny (Dreamtime), Black Unstoppable (Delmark) and Xenogenesis (Firehouse 12). Mitchell also leads Black Earth Strings, an acoustic quartet that brings African rhythms, contemporary sounds and swinging improvisation to a chamber music setting. Black Earth Strings recorded Renegades on Delmark Records.
Nicole Mitchell has performed as featured soloist with the Orbert Davis Chicago Jazz Philharmonic at the Auditorium Theater and at Millineum Park in Chicago. (2005-6) In December 2005, Nicole Mitchell performed a special duo concert with pianist Muhal Richard Abrams in celebration of the AACM's 40th Anniversary in Chicago. Ms. Mitchell performed as a soloist with composer George E. Lewis and the International Composer's and Improvisers Ensemble (2003) in Munich, Germany. In Chicago, Mitchell has also been a featured soloist with Chicago's CUBE Ensemble, University of Chicago's Jazz X-Tet, the New Black Repertory Ensemble of Columbia College and the Orbert Davis' Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. She recently was a flute soloist with the Chicago Sinfonietta for a premiere composition by composer Renee Baker.