Home » Jazz Articles » Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble: Black Unstoppable

313
Film Review

Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble: Black Unstoppable

By

Sign in to view read count
Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble
Black Unstoppable
Delmark Records
2007



Flutist Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble captures the essence of urban jazz, especially as it relates to Chicago. Mitchell's compositions mix avant-garde with bebop, blues and soul, encompassing decades of musical development. The flow among styles on Black Unstoppable, filmed at Chicagoâ????s famed Velvet Lounge, is seamless. One groove melds into the next, creating the effect of a multi-movement suite intent on squashing all pessimistic thoughts. Performing for an intimate and attentive audience, Mitchell, saxophonist David Boykin, trumpeter David Young, guitarist Jeff Parker, cellist Tomeka Reid, bassist Josh Abrams, drummer Marcus Evans and vocalist Ugochi Nwaogwugwu effectively demonstrate the benefits of positive musical collaboration.

Mitchell, who plays flute, piccolo and alto flute, is a master technician who bares her soul with every note. Her improvisations are free-flowing and thoughtfully developed. She combines a free- spirited approach on the bouncy opener "The Creator Has Other Plans for Me" with acrobatic prowess on the angular "Cause and Effect" and the blues-drenched "Love Has No Boundaries."

Boykin is a stoic figure on the bandstand. His larger-than-life sound on tenor elevates each piece to a higher level of spiritual awareness. Young brings a playfully aggressive element to the ensemble. His trumpet solos are brazen, moving in and out of traditional harmonic boundaries with ease and assuredness.

Musical boundaries are stretched wide on the freely moving title track, featuring an extended, aggressive bass romp by Abrams and an inventive solo by Parker, who makes creative, tasteful use of effects. The contrapuntal theme and rhythmically-open nature of "February" sets up a solid solo by Mitchell on alto flute, along with a go-for-broke statement by Boykin that is brief, yet inspiring. The disc ends with "Thanking the Universe," Mitchell's buoyantly funky message about fate, love and gratitude. Nwaogwugwu's soulful fervor, Boykin's energized testifying and Parker's rocked-out wailing bring a fitting close to an inspiring, even provocative set—one moreover that resists if not defies easy categorization.

The bonus commentary by Mitchell gives valuable insight into the groupâ????s evolution and the inspiration behind each piece.


Tracks: The Creator Has Other Plans for Me; Life Wants You to Love; Cause and Effect; Love Has No Boundaries; Black Unstoppable; February; Thanking The Universe.

Personnel: Nicole Mitchell: flute, alto flute, piccolo, vocals; David Boykin: tenor saxophone, percussion; David Young: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jeff Parker: guitar; Tomeka Reid: cello, shakere; Josh Abrams: bass; Marcus Evans: drums; Ugochi Nwaogwugwu: vocals (2,4,7).

Production Notes: 78 minutes. Recorded at 24bit/96kHz High Resolution Audio live on July 8 & 9, 2007 at the Velvet Lounge, Chicago, Illinois. Includes bonus commentary by Nicole Mitchell.


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
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.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
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

Tags

More

Jazz article: The Beatles: Get Back
Film Review
The Beatles: Get Back
Jazz article: The Rolling Stones: Licked Live In NYC
Jazz article: The Beatles And India
Film Review
The Beatles And India

Popular

Read Giving Thanks & Sharing the Jazz Love
Read Your Favorite Living Jazz Guitarists
Read Your Favorite Living Jazz Pianists
Read Your Favorite Living Jazz Drummers
Read Your Favorite Living Jazz Bassists
Read Chris May's Best Albums Of 2022

Get more of a good thing!

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