4

Denis Fournier / Nicole Mitchell: Watershed

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Flautist Nicole Mitchell has found a supportive outlet in the Paris-based Rogue Art imprint, with her past outings including Anaya (2009), Emerald Hills (2010), The Ethiopian Princess Meets The Tantric Priest (2012) and Arc Of O (2012), and she is the most well-known name on Watershed. However she sits second in the billing below French percussionist Denis Fournier / Nicole Mitchell who contributes three out of five originals on the 51-minute 2011 concert recording from Junas in southern France. A long-time aficionado of Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Music, Fournier first made acquaintance with its members back in 1985 through Kahil El'Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble. Part of the band at that time was reedman Hanah Jon Taylor, invited by the drummer to join his band here, alongside Mitchell and fellow AACM initiate, cellist Tomeka Reid.

Fournier's admiration for the AACM's sense of collective endeavour manifests itself in the way his compositions offer such varied opportunities for expression by this crack unit. Taylor has flown largely below the critical radar, but proves a vital presence, soloing strongly and bolstering the ensembles. After the Frenchman's appropriately thoughtful introduction to "Dannie Richmond," Taylor wails convincingly on tenor saxophone, latterly in muscular duet with seething drums. Later on "La Voce de la Luna" he more than holds his own on flute in tandem with Mitchell, which is no mean achievement given her darting lines, embellished by vocalized trills and vibrato shadings. His work on electronic valve instrument convinces less, adding subtle and disconcerting hues at the outset of "Le Partage des Eaux" before becoming more anonymous as the track progresses.

On bass Bernard Santacruz, like the drummer, supplies sensitive though periodically challenging counterpoint. He shines at the start of Mitchell's episodic "Pathways" as he struts his stuff around a taut riff, leading into what is the most ambitious cut on the album. Dualling tenor and flute chafe at the bounds of normality, before opening into whistling unison over a scratchy backing. So much detail is packed in that the piece might have benefited from longer than its nine-minute span. Reid's warm supple tones mingle with the bassist in an edgy twosome at the outset of Fournier's concluding "La Voce de la Luna" heralding a martial processional which takes the disc out in an air of melancholy triumph. Though the geographic and economic realities might be difficult, there's enough here to justify this being more than a one-off project.

Track Listing: Dannie Richmond; Le Partage des Eaux; Pathways; Prayer for Wadud; La Voce de la Luna.

Personnel: Denis Fournier: drums; Nicole Mitchell: flute, alto flute, piccolo; Hanah Jon Taylor: tenor & soprano saxophones, flute, electronic valve instrument; Tomeka Reid: cello; Bernard Santacruz: double bass.

Title: Watershed | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Rogue Art


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Mata Hati" CD/LP/Track Review Mata Hati
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 29, 2017
Read "Dirt In The Ground" CD/LP/Track Review Dirt In The Ground
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 13, 2017
Read "Converging Tributaries" CD/LP/Track Review Converging Tributaries
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 5, 2017
Read "Burnt Hibiscus" CD/LP/Track Review Burnt Hibiscus
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 27, 2017
Read "2016" CD/LP/Track Review 2016
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 13, 2016
Read "Layers" CD/LP/Track Review Layers
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 1, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.