All About Jazz

Home » Articles » DVD/Film Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

312

Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble: Black Unstoppable

John Barron 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.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Open Land: Meeting John Abercrombie DVD/Film Reviews
Open Land: Meeting John Abercrombie
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 8, 2018
Read BANG! The Bert Berns Story DVD/Film Reviews
BANG! The Bert Berns Story
by Doug Collette
Published: July 14, 2018
Read Still On The Run: The Jeff Beck Story DVD/Film Reviews
Still On The Run: The Jeff Beck Story
by Doug Collette
Published: June 25, 2018
Read Eric Clapton: Life In 12 Bars DVD/Film Reviews
Eric Clapton: Life In 12 Bars
by Doug Collette
Published: June 24, 2018
Read Randy Brecker Quintet: Live at Sweet Basil 1988 DVD/Film Reviews
Randy Brecker Quintet: Live at Sweet Basil 1988
by John Kelman
Published: June 5, 2018
Read Jazz Ambassadors: Representing A Segregated America During The Cold War DVD/Film Reviews
Jazz Ambassadors: Representing A Segregated America During...
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: May 11, 2018
Read "Jeff Beck: Live at the Hollywood Bowl" DVD/Film Reviews Jeff Beck: Live at the Hollywood Bowl
by Doug Collette
Published: October 7, 2017
Read "Rolling Stones From The Vault: Sticky Fingers Live at the Fonda Theatre 2015" DVD/Film Reviews Rolling Stones From The Vault: Sticky Fingers Live at the...
by Doug Collette
Published: September 30, 2017
Read "Frank Sinatra: Portrait Of An Album | Sinatra Sings" DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: Portrait Of An Album | Sinatra Sings
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read "La La Land" DVD/Film Reviews La La Land
by Gareth Thomas
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "The Doors: Live At The Isle of Wight Festival 1970" DVD/Film Reviews The Doors: Live At The Isle of Wight Festival 1970
by Doug Collette
Published: February 24, 2018