Flutist Nicole Mitchell’s Influences and Influence

With a more far-ranging approach than usual to the music offered to the musicians to discuss in a Jazz Times’ Before and After listening session, George Varga manages to elicit memorable comments about mentorship, experimentation and craftsmanship from flutist Nicole Mitchell. Mitchell, an academic and former Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) chairperson, listens intensely and discourses on such subjects as the use of electronics and extended techniques after hearing tunes by flutists Robert Dick and Matthias Ziegler; how the far-ranging thinking and writing of trombonist George Lewis and flutist James Newton helped shape her idea of how to be a musician after hearing a session by the two playing together; and after listening to a later humorous cut by Sun Ra, relating an incident when at 19 she attended a concert by keyboardist/orchestra leader and finding that his and her ideas on Afrofuturism jibed so closely, that she figures she would have accepted his invitation to join the band in Philadelphia if she hadn’t moved to Chicago and joined the AACM.