Reviews that mention Nicole Mitchell

March 26, 2017

Michel Edelin’s Flute Fever Orchestra

Kalamania
RogueArt ROG-0070

Disdained and denigrated for its aviary-like peeping after becoming common in Jazz circles during the 1950s, the flute’s Clark Kent-reputation still lingers even after outliers like Rahsaaan Roland Kirk and James Newton demonstrated that it was also capable of Superman-like feats of strength. But a more profound manifestation of the traverse instrument’s adaptability comes from flautist’s Michel Edelin’s Paris-based Flute Fever Orchestra (FFO). Besides the leader, bassist Peter Giron and drummer John Betsch, the regular members are two more flutists: Sylvaine Hélary and Ludivine Issambourg with American flutist Nicole Mitchell making a special guest appearance on this two-CD set. Augmented to Justice League of America-like capacity, the FFO uses instruments of various sizes, shapes and pitches alone or in groups to provide a blockbuster-like run-through of flute powers on The Song of the Mad Faun. Like a spin off from a popular superhero epic, Domus, the affiliated other CD, has Edelin performing superhero-like solo flute feats. MORE

February 18, 2017

NPR’s 11th Annual

Jazz Critics Poll Ballot
2016

•Your name and primary affiliation(s)

Ken Waxman: Jazzword.com The New York City Jazz Record; Whole Note

•Your choices for this year’s 10 best New Releases listed in descending order

1. Alexander Hawkins Trio Alexander Hawkins Music AH 1001

2. Anna Webber’s Simple Trio Binary Skirl Records 033

3. Michael Formanek Ensemble Kolossus The Distance ECM 2484

4. Artifacts Reed-Reid-Mitchell 482 Music 482-1093

5. Umlaut Big Band Euro Swing Vol. 2 Umlaut UMFR-CD18 MORE

February 18, 2017

Tiger Trio

Unleashed
Boklet notes for RogueArt ROG00074

Although double bassist Joëlle Léandre’s music has always been as French as the Eiffel Tower, for four decades she has been open to collaborations with improvisers from other countries, especially the United States. So it’s no surprise to find her partners on this Paris concerto pianist Myra Melford and flutist Nicole Mitchell, who are both now based on the US West Coast. Without putting too fine a point on it, the sonic affiliation displayed with this Euro-American trio also mark another theme which the bassist has bolstered over the years: championing the profound skills women musicians can express in improvised music. Although Léandre has throughout her career made it a point to perform with players of many nationalities, ages and genders – ranging from elders such as guitarist Derek Bailey and saxophonist Daunik Lazro to then-tyros like clarinetist François Houle and violinist Theo Ceccaldi – some of her most outstanding work has been in the company of other female performers or in all-women bands. The best-known entity of course is Les Diaboliques, the long-running trio she pilots alongside pianist Irène Schweizer, and vocalist Maggie Nicols. But her sessions in the company of other sophisticated female sound experimenters encompass meetings with such innovators as violinist India Cooke, percussionist Danielle P. Roger, pianist Marilyn Crispell and singer Lauren Newton. MORE

August 6, 2016

Dresser/Mitchell/Melford/Dessen

Virtual Tour: A Reduced Carbon Footprint Concert Series
pfMENTUM DVD 094

By Ken Waxman

Ever notice that people are never shown watching TV images on television programs? That’s because the concept of a viewer watching a screen showing someone watching another screen moves into the surrealistic realm of a René Magritte painting. This is one drawback of Virtual Tour. Intriguing in conception, the idea is that four San Diego-based musicians – pianist Myra Melford, bassist Mark Dresser, trombonist Michael Dessen and flutist Nicolle Mitchell – play in real time via high-speed uncompressed audio and high definition video connections alongside three separately linked ensembles in Amherst, MA, Stony Brook, NY, and Zürich, Switzerland. Oversized video screens are on stage with each, which at points provides some arresting close-ups of intricate solo explorations or intense responses to each other’s playing. This is especially obvious during lick trading from Dessen and fellow trombonist Ray Anderson in Stony Brook, But throughout the 193 [!] -minute program there are many shots of one group or another waiting to play following solos taken elsewhere. That is visuals of people watching other people on TV. MORE

June 1, 2016

Artist Feature

Mike Reed
By Ken Waxman

Chicago drummer Mike Reed, 42, is a realist – and a visionary. More than a dozen years ago he experienced his own epiphany about the (jazz) music business and his place in it while working part time as a bartender. “I was thinking about my future and how I didn’t want to still be a bartender when I was 39 … or 49,” he recalls. Reed who at that point had been involved with different bands in Chicago’s music ferment since his mid-‘90s return to the city after completing a degree in English and Psychology at the University of Dayton Ohio, was with cornetist Josh Berman, already co-curating a series of Sunday sessions at the Hungry Brain club. Earlier, while working for a marketing agency he had helped organize city concerts encouraging people to vote in the presidential election. Promotion seemed to be the appropriate career choice and within a year, he had partnered with Pitchfork, a Chicago-based online music magazine, to create the annual summer Pitchfork Music Festival which is still going strong. MORE

December 16, 2015

Reed-Reid-Mitchell

Artifacts
482 Music 482-1093

By Ken Waxman

Deciding to honour earlier members of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM) during the organizations’ 50th anniversary year, flutist Nicole Mitchell, cellist Tomeka Reid and drummer Mike Reed – AACMers themselves – initiated this nonpareil program. Like musicians who miniaturize symphonic score for chamber music ensembles, the three dextrously re-imagine pieces composed for larger, usually saxophone-oriented bands, so that the vibrant swing of the pieces is expressed alongside their exploratory natures. MORE

September 11, 2015

Spotlight

482 Music
By Ken Waxman

Maxims like: “you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of a boy” posses more than a kernel of truth if you substitute Chicago for country and the 482 Music label for the boy. After more than a decade in New York, label-owner Mike, Lintner says ruefully that many people still consider 482 a Chicago enterprise, even though the majority of the 90-odd releases it has put out since 1997 aren’t by Chicago artists. “It was the Document Chicago Series, our close relationships with Chicago media, and, I guess to some extent [drummer] Mike Reed, that gave the label the Chicago identity,” explains Lintner, who lived in Chicago during the first six years 482 existed. “A record label can be run from most anywhere,” he insists, “and New York’s not a bad place to do it.” MORE

April 7, 2015

Artist Feature

Rob Mazurek
By Ken Waxman

Death, loss and similar topics aren’t usually the subject of jazz performances. But several of Chicago-based cornetist Rob Mazurek’s most recent CDs have dealt with bereavement to some extent. Return the Tides, for instance, recorded with Black Cube SP (BCSP) is what he describes as a “cathartic modern psychedelic spiritual” honoring his mother Kathleen who died in 2013. Similarly Mother Ode recorded on what would have been his mother’s 72nd birthday, uses cornet, bells, implements, incantation and noise to celebrate her lasting influence on Mazurek’s art. Meantime Alternate Moon Cycles is a salute by Mazurek plus an electric trio to one of his mentors, trumpeter Bill Dixon. MORE

March 23, 2015

Joëlle Léandre-Nicole Mitchell

Sisters Where
RogueArt ROG-0055

Joëlle Léandre-Vincent Courtois

Live at Kesselhaus Berlin

Jazzdor Series 01

Experienced in the art and science of erudite duo performances, French bassist Joëlle Léandre demonstrates both profundity and parody on these meetings with long-time associates. Recorded live about four months apart in Berlin or Paris, each CD has much to recommend it. However, perhaps it’s because the bassist is intent on matching the improvisational combustion sparked by the flute of American Nicole Mitchell, another musical polymath, that animated spirits seem more apparent on Sisters Where than Live at Kesselhaus Berlin. Not that that the latter CD, recorded with French cellist Vincent Courtois, is lacking in any way. It’s just that the exuberance expressed on Léandre’s home-town gig is more pronounced. MORE

March 18, 2015

Nicole Mitchell’s Sonic Projections

The Secret Escapades of Velvet Anderson
RogueArt ROG-056

By Ken Waxman

Although not as overly programmatic as the recording of Intergalactic Beings her Afro-Futuristic Sci-Fi suite, this CD is another instance of how Nicole Mitchell’s burgeoning compositional chops are keeping pace with her acknowledged command of the flute. With The Secret Escapades of Velvet Anderson Mitchell shines in the triple task of honoring one of her mentors, tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson (1929-2010); doing so with a nine-part linked composition in the super-hero vein; and creating all the necessary textures with only a quartet. MORE

November 16, 2014

Nicole Mitchell

Intergalactic Beings
FPE Records FPE 02

Kyle Bruckmann’s Wrack

Awaits Silent Tristero’s Empire

Singlespeed Music SSM-014

Franz Koglmann

JOIN!

ORF-CD 3177

Michael Lösch

Heroes

Sweet Alps No #

Something In the Air: Mixing Advanced Jazz with Program Music

By Ken Waxman

Creating an entire program of integrated story and sound has long been a hallmark of western music. Just because the 20th and 21st century has given composers not only more instruments and modes to work with but also the possibility of adding aleatoric passages hasn`t lessened such projects’ appeal. Unlike the sometimes ill-conceived so-called jazz musicals of the past, today’s improvisers have the skills needed to link a coherent story line with creative sounds. MORE

September 6, 2014

Thomas Buckner/Joëlle Léandre/Nicole Mitchell

Flowing Stream
Leo Records CD LR 701

By Ken Waxman

Unconventionality is a state of mind. If it’s possible to create an improvising duo with just flute and double bass, then why not add a baritone singer to the ensemble? Flowing Stream proves that exemplary sounds can result from such a set up. One of the many ensembles in which American flautist Nicole Mitchell and French bassist Joëlle Léandre participate, their existing duo is joined by baritone Thomas Buckner on a dozen tracks. Specialist in sound-singing, unexpected overtones and extended techniques, the vocalist divides his time between interpreting contemporary notated music and improvising with the likes of Roscoe Mitchell. MORE

November 8, 2013

Harris Eisenstadt

Golden State Songlines SGL 1602-2

By Ken Waxman

Harris Eisenstadt better watch out. If he continues to release ground-breaking work like this CD he’ll end up giving chamber jazz a good name.

Over the past decade, the Toronto-born, NYC-based percussionist has demonstrated his effectiveness as composer, leader and sideman in a variety of contexts from experimental to roots-oriented while staying clearly within the jazz-improvising continuum. Golden State is a slight departure since it fuses the tones from two primarily orchestral instruments – Nicole Mitchell’s flute and Sara Schoenbeck’s bassoon – with the non-symmetrical yet explicit beat of Mark Dresser’s bass and Eisenstadt’s drums. MORE

September 14, 2013

Nicole Mitchell’s Ice Crystal

Aquarius
Delmark DE 5004

Satoko Fujii Ma-Do

Time Stands Still

NotTwo MW 897-2

Bomata

Arômes d’allieurs

Malasartes mam 016

Wadada Leo Smith and TUM Orchestra

Occupy The World

TUM CD 037-2

Something In The Air: The Guelph Jazz Festival Turns 20

By Ken Waxman

Twenty years after its modest beginning, the Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF), which this year takes place September 3 to 8, has grown to be one of this country’s major improvised music celebrations. Unlike many other so-called jazz fests which lard their programs with crooners masquerading as jazz singers, tired rock or pop acts, or so-called World or C&W performers who make no pretense of playing jazz, the GJF continues to showcase committed improvisers in sympathetic settings including during the fourth installment of the dusk-to-dawn Nuit Blanche. MORE

September 9, 2013

Nicole Mitchell

Engraved in the Wind
RogueArt R0G-0047

Watershed

Watershed

RogueArt ROG-0044

Nicole Mitchell’s Ice Crystal

Aquarius

Delmark DE 5004

By Ken Waxman

A major Jazz flautist, Nicole Mitchell recently traded her Chicago base for an academic post at University of California, Irvine. But as these sessions attest, the flautist, who during her two decades in the Windy City played in numerous bands and was an executive of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM), hasn’t let geography or academe slow down her recording schedule. These CDs feature her with quartet of Chicagoans, a mixed French-American quintet and most challengingly, solo. MORE

September 9, 2013

Nicole Mitchell’s Ice Crystal

Aquarius
Delmark DE 5004

Watershed

Watershed

RogueArt ROG-0044

Nicole Mitchell

Engraved in the Wind

RogueArt R0G-0047

By Ken Waxman

A major Jazz flautist, Nicole Mitchell recently traded her Chicago base for an academic post at University of California, Irvine. But as these sessions attest, the flautist, who during her two decades in the Windy City played in numerous bands and was an executive of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM), hasn’t let geography or academe slow down her recording schedule. These CDs feature her with quartet of Chicagoans, a mixed French-American quintet and most challengingly, solo. MORE

September 9, 2013

Watershed

Watershed
RogueArt ROG-0044

Nicole Mitchell

Engraved in the Wind

RogueArt R0G-0047

Nicole Mitchell’s Ice Crystal

Aquarius

Delmark DE 5004

By Ken Waxman

A major Jazz flautist, Nicole Mitchell recently traded her Chicago base for an academic post at University of California, Irvine. But as these sessions attest, the flautist, who during her two decades in the Windy City played in numerous bands and was an executive of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM), hasn’t let geography or academe slow down her recording schedule. These CDs feature her with quartet of Chicagoans, a mixed French-American quintet and most challengingly, solo. MORE

June 28, 2013

Roscoe Mitchell

Three Compositions
Rogueart ROG-0043

A rare glimpse of Roscoe Mitchell’s singular skills as an orchestrator and conductor, the fascination of Numbers is how well an 11-piece strings-and-horns ensemble can balance the saxophonist’s notated and improvisational tropes so that the core of the reedman’s creativity is maintained.

Recorded at a Sardinian Jazz festival, the program’s bets are hedged in two different ways. For a start the three compositions were either – in the case of “Quintet #1 for Eleven” and “Quintet #9 for Eleven” – transcribed from charts Mitchell created for his working combo, then rearranged to allow free sections in this score for the larger group, or in the third, based on game theory. Now titled “Cards for Orchestra”, but really “Memories of a Dying Parachutist”, the track is an aleatory invention, where each solo is based on six cards of musical instruction given to each player by the composer. The instructions can be used in any order and played at any tempo. MORE

June 13, 2013

Didier Petit-Alexandre Pierrepont

Passages
RogueArt ROG-0042

By Ken Waxman

While the ‘50s were the heyday for “Jazz with Poetry” recordings, leave it to the French to create a “Jazz without Poetry” recording. Unlike say Jack Kerouac reading his works while Zoot Sims improvises beside him in the studio, the musicians here improvise while listening to Alexandre Pierrepont’s poetry through headphones. Further confounding the paradigm, Pierrepont reads in French, then an English-speaker reads the same passage in French idiosyncratically altering the meaning. Very occasionally snatches of field recordings, including guitar strums or soprano vocalizing leak into the mix, but except for once, nothing of the poem is heard. MORE

April 16, 2013

Watershed

Watershed
RogueArt ROG-0044

AACM meets Amis français; Watershed – the band and the CD – maintains its individuality by mixing improvisations and compositions from both sides of the Atlantic in this live program. Representing France is the inventive partnership of bassist Bernard Santacruz and drummer Denis Fournier, who singly or together have worked with everyone from saxophonists Archie Shepp and Byard Lancaster to pianists Siegfried Kessler and Mal Waldron. Both self-taught, their colleagues from Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) are music school trained cellist Tomeka Reid, also a member of drummer Mike Reed’s Loose Assembly and flutist/piccolo player Nicole Mitchell, who has worked with a lengthening list of first-class improvisers. Added impetus comes from Madison’s Hanah Jon Taylor playing tenor and alto saxophones, flute and electronic valve instrument. He’s a lesser-known AACM veteran who was part of a long-standing trio with the late bassist Malachi Favors. MORE

June 5, 2012

Festival Report:

dOek's 10th Anniversary
By Ken Waxman

Unexpectedly but appropriately, Sean Bergin tenor saxophonist and tour-guide-for-the-day, added an extra stop to an afternoon bus tour of selected jazz clubs during Amsterdam’s 10th anniversary dOeK festival April 21-22. In front of a construction site on a narrow street beside a canal, which from 1974-2005 been home to the Bimhuis, the South African-born Bergin passed out noise-makers and lead the participants in a brief fanfare celebrating ground zero for advanced Dutch sounds,

The salute was doubly significant. Not only was that location progenitor of the spacious, soft-seated, harbor-front location of the new Bimhuis in which the two-day festival took place, but long-time Amsterdam resident Bergin, who during the bus journey entertained with quirky songs and stories about the city’s musical history while playing saxophone, penny-whistle and ukulele, is a representative of the foreign improvisers who have contributed to the city’s musical gestalt over the years. MORE

June 5, 2012

Nicole Mitchell

Awakening
Delmark DE-599

Indigo Trio/Michel Edelin

The Ethiopian Princess meets the Tantric Priest

RogueArt ROG-0034

By Ken Waxman

Even after nearly 60 years as a double for woodwind players – and first choice for a select few – the flute can’t shake off its reputation as a secondary jazz axe. But Nicole Mitchell, who recently moved from Chicago to the West Coast, is doing her best to overcome this stigma. Avoiding the transverse tube’s frillier association, she also stays away from atonal experiments. As these CDs demonstrate, impressive improvisations are created even as the flute retains its lyrical characteristics. MORE

June 5, 2012

Indigo Trio/Michel Edelin

The Ethiopian Princess meets the Tantric Priest
RogueArt ROG-0034

Nicole Mitchell

Awakening

Delmark DE-599

By Ken Waxman

Even after nearly 60 years as a double for woodwind players – and first choice for a select few – the flute can’t shake off its reputation as a secondary jazz axe. But Nicole Mitchell, who recently moved from Chicago to the West Coast, is doing her best to overcome this stigma. Avoiding the transverse tube’s frillier association, she also stays away from atonal experiments. As these CDs demonstrate, impressive improvisations are created even as the flute retains its lyrical characteristics. MORE

February 20, 2012

Nicole Mitchell

Awakening
Delmark DE 599

Indigo Trio/Michel Edelin

The Ethiopian Princess meets the Tantric Priest

RogueArt ROG-0034

Even after the nearly 60 years since it became an accepted double for many woodwind players – and instrument of choice for a select few – the flute still can’t shake off its reputation as a secondary axe for improvisation. But Nicole Mitchell, who recently moved from Chicago to the West Coast, is doing her best to overcome this stigma. Avoiding the transverse tube’s frillier association, in her writing and playing she also stays away from outright timbral experimentation. Nevertheless, as these CDs, recorded within two months of one another demonstrate, impressive improvisations can be created, even as the gold-plated stick retains its so-called lady-like characteristics. MORE

February 20, 2012

Indigo Trio/Michel Edelin

The Ethiopian Princess meets the Tantric Priest
RogueArt ROG-0034

The Ethiopian Princess meets the Tantric Priest

RogueArt ROG-0034

Even after the nearly 60 years since it became an accepted double for many woodwind players – and instrument of choice for a select few – the flute still can’t shake off its reputation as a secondary axe for improvisation. But Nicole Mitchell, who recently moved from Chicago to the West Coast, is doing her best to overcome this stigma. Avoiding the transverse tube’s frillier association, in her writing and playing she also stays away from outright timbral experimentation. Nevertheless, as these CDs, recorded within two months of one another demonstrate, impressive improvisations can be created, even as the gold-plated stick retains its so-called lady-like characteristics. MORE

June 10, 2011

Joëlle Léandre/Nicole Mitchell/Dylan van der Schyff

Before After
Roguart Rog-0032

Joëlle Léandre

Live at the “Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon”

Leo Records CD LR 594/595

Joëlle Léandre & India Cooke

Journey

No Business Records NBCD 18

Joëlle Léandre/Phillip Greenlief

That Overt Desire of Object

Relative Pitch Records RPR 1002

By Ken Waxman

Solo, duo, trio, combo, there seems little that French bassist Joëlle Léandre isn’t capable of in an improvising situation. This clutch of CDs demonstrates this. One outstanding anomaly however is Live at the “Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon”, where she directs a handpicked tentet through a composition she created specifically for the festival. All the discs are of uniform high quality. MORE

February 12, 2011

Exploding Star Orchestra

Stars Have Shapes
Delmark DE 595

Mike Reed’s Loose Assembly

Empathetic Parts (with Roscoe Mitchell)

482 Music 482-1074

By Ken Waxman

One of the standout players among Chicago’s recent burgeoning crop of improvised musicians, alto saxophonist Greg Ward is versatile enough to gig with groups ranging from the chamber-oriented International Contemporary Ensemble to those lead by saxophonist Ernest Dawkins and other members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM). These CDs confirm his skills, although his role is more prominent in drummer Mike Reed’s Loose Assembly then as part of cornetist Rob Mazurek’s 14-piece Exploding Star Orchestra. His contributions to Reed’s Empathetic Parts are even more impressive, since he shares reed duties with saxophonist/flautist Roscoe Mitchell, more than 40 years his senior and an AACM founder. For his part, Mitchell is spontaneous enough to assimilate a performance strategy already tested with the existing five-piece band. MORE

October 16, 2009

Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Strings

Renegades
Delmark DE 587

Indigo Trio

Anaya

Rogueart Rog-0018

Having established herself as one of the primary flute voices in today’s improvised music, Chicago’s Nicole Mitchell has reached the point when she can record within six months of one another such dissimilar – yet equally engrossing – CDs. At the same time however, the sessions also pinpoint yet another evolution in the music as well as the challenge for the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) of which Mitchell is co-chair. MORE

October 16, 2009

Indigo Trio

Anaya
Rogueart Rog-0018

Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Strings

Renegades

Delmark DE 587

Having established herself as one of the primary flute voices in today’s improvised music, Chicago’s Nicole Mitchell has reached the point when she can record within six months of one another such dissimilar – yet equally engrossing – CDs. At the same time however, the sessions also pinpoint yet another evolution in the music as well as the challenge for the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) of which Mitchell is co-chair. MORE

December 8, 2008

Bill Dixon

With Exploding Star Orchestra
Thrill Jockey Thrill 192

Bill Dixon

17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur

AUM Fidelity AUM 046

More than an elderly lion in winter, 83-year-old trumpeter Bill Dixon seems to have reasserted his place in the jazz firmament during the dozen years since he retired from academe after nearly three decades of teaching at Vermont’s Bennington College.

Both of these big band CDs resulted from a purple patch of creativity in the summer of 2007, when Dixon was able to lead different orchestras in New York and Chicago through some of his extended compositions. Both the 56½-minute “Darfur” suite in New York and the two 18-minute versions of “Entrances” in the mid-West are shaped around a combination of composed work and spontaneously cued solos. The tonal colors emphasized on both are orchestral rather than standard big band arrangements, with woodwinds, strings and miscellaneous percussion prominent. MORE

December 8, 2008

Bill Dixon

17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur
AUM Fidelity AUM 046

Bill Dixon

With Exploding Star Orchestra

Thrill Jockey Thrill 192

More than an elderly lion in winter, 83-year-old trumpeter Bill Dixon seems to have reasserted his place in the jazz firmament during the dozen years since he retired from academe after nearly three decades of teaching at Vermont’s Bennington College.

Both of these big band CDs resulted from a purple patch of creativity in the summer of 2007, when Dixon was able to lead different orchestras in New York and Chicago through some of his extended compositions. Both the 56½-minute “Darfur” suite in New York and the two 18-minute versions of “Entrances” in the mid-West are shaped around a combination of composed work and spontaneously cued solos. The tonal colors emphasized on both are orchestral rather than standard big band arrangements, with woodwinds, strings and miscellaneous percussion prominent. MORE

July 2, 2008

A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music

By George E. Lewis
University of Chicago Press

Home from his studies at Yale University in 1971, trombonist George Lewis was walking to his parents’ home on Chicago’s South Side when he heard unusual sounds coming from a nearby brick building. Peering inside he saw a group practicing what he calls “fascinating” music. Asking if he could attend future rehearsals, Lewis was grudgingly welcomed into what he soon found out was the disciplined but inventive milieu of the Association of the Advancement Musicians (AACM). MORE

November 10, 2006

Hamid Drake & Bindu

Bindu
RogueArt ROG-0001

With the ensemble and the CD entitled Bindu, an Indian concept that signifies action as in worship or prayer, you know that this almost 75-minute, eight-track CD is not going to be a standard blowing session.

A further look at the personnel confirms this. Leader Hamid Drake plays drums, percussion and tabla, while the other participants are four saxophonists – Daniel Carter and Sabir Mateen from New York; and Greg Ward and Ernest Dawkins from Chicago –

plus Windy City flautist Nicole Mitchell. The reason why the CD is not wholly satisfying however is that the date is segmented: harder, fast-paced riff pieces featuring the reed players and two devotional pieces, the lengthiest of the set. MORE

October 26, 2006

Frequency

Frequency
Thrill Jockey thrill 164

Encompassing distinctive compositions, and high quality improvisational flights plus World and Native American sonic echoes, this debut CD confirms both the talents of the band Frequency and the continued adaptability of Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM) members.

Besides the ACCM-link, each participant in this Chicago-based quartet brings different sensibilities to the session. Reedist Ed Wilkerson is best-known as the leader of the Eight Bold Souls, the band in which bassist Harrison Bankhead also plays. Flautist Nicole Mitchell leads her own groups as well as working as an educator, while veteran percussionist Avreeayl Ra’s AACM involvement goes back almost to the cooperative’s founding. MORE

September 12, 2005

Ann Arbor’s Edgefest expands in its Ninth Outing

for CODA

Participants, including members of Chicago’s AACM, representatives of Montreal’s Musique Actuelle scene and a New York-based musician and hybrid instrument designer who’ll jam with a golf club and an umbrella, will all take part in Ann Arbor, Michigan’s ninth annual Edgefest, October 19 to October 22.

Taking place in a medium-sized college city, home to the University of Michigan, about an hour’s drive west of Detroit, Edgefest has steadily expanded from its one-day debut to the four-day 2005 festival. Besides American musicians, particular emphasis is on innovators from the music scenes in Holland and Quebec. This year, for instance, Claude St-Jean’s Les Projectionnistes is the featured Quebec ensemble – its second Edgefest appearance – with saxophonist Tobias Delius’ Quartet – including cellist Tristan Honsinger and drummer Han Bennink – representing the Netherlands. MORE

August 22, 2005

NICOLE MITCHELL BLACK EARTH ENSEMBLE

Hope, Future and Destiny
Dreamtime Dream 007

SAVOIR FAIRE
Running Out Of Time
Delmark DE 562

Newer voices from Chicago’s ever-evolving Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), flutist/vocalist Nicole Mitchell and violinist Savoir Faire are starting to make names for themselves in the Windy City and elsewhere.

Fourth generation of players who have adopted the progressive concepts of the now 40-year-old AACM, Mitchell and Faire – real name Samuel Williams – have modified certain distinct aspects of the AACM. Neither appears to be much interested in out-and-out sound experiments which characterized the work of early AACMers like Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell. Instead Nicole Mitchell’s 14-piece ensemble adapts wholeheartedly the ritualistic, Africanized performance ethos that is another AACM staple; six of the tunes include vocals or recitations. Meanwhile, not unlike many younger generation AACMers, Faire and his quintet seem unswerving in a commitment to swing and rhythm. Only one of his compositions is even vaguely atonal and four include modified programming by the single-named Anti. MORE

February 10, 2003

NICOLE MITCHELL/BLACK EARTH ENSEMBLE

Afrika Rising
Dreamtime Records 004

Creativity is still common currency in Chicago as the new CD by flutist/composer Nicole Mitchell proves. Even more ambitious than her debut disc (VISION QUEST also on Dreamtime Records) this CD finds Mitchell, who also teaches flute at Chicago State University, convening an even larger Black Earth Ensemble made up of 19 different musicians on various tracks. The result is an Afrocentric disc that shows off not only her flute, piccolo and vocals, but also the wealth of other Windy City talent, many of whom are also part of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. MORE

April 19, 2002

DAVID BOYKIN EXPANSE

47th Street Ghost
Dreamtime Records 003

Proving once again the old adage that everything old is new again, Chicago saxophonist David Boykin and company have produced a perfect, progressive hard bop LP. Thing is, the session was recorded not in 1958 at 33 1/3, but last year on CD. While the results are impressive, it suggests that younger members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) aren’t as involved in experimentation as their elders, who include icons like Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell and George Lewis, have been. MORE

August 20, 2001

NICOLE MITCHELL & BLACK EARTH ENSEMBLE

Vision Quest
Dreamtime Records No #

Two myths persist about Chicago's still vibrant Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). One is that the group reached the zenith of its accomplishment in the 1960s and the 1970s. The other, more insidious, is that the organization is unwelcoming to female performers.

Certainly since it was first organized more than 35 years ago, many of the best-known AACMers -- including Anthony Braxton, George Lewis, Muhal Richard Abrams and Roscoe Mitchell -- have moved from the Windy City. But as they do important work elsewhere, local members such as Ernest Dawkins, David Boykin, Ed Wilkerson, Fred Anderson, Kahil El'Zabar and the musicians featured on this intriguing disc, continue to produce sounds which are part futuristic and part traditional. MORE