Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Nicole Mitchell / Tomeka Reid / Mike Reed - Artifacts (482 Music, 2015)

This group is an all-star trio of younger members of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) who came together celebrate the 50th anniversary of the organization in a concert in Seattle early in 2015. Flutist Nicole Mitchell, cellist Tomeka Reid, and drummer Mike Reed opened their performance with the track “Composition 23B” which begins with fast flute and nervously tapped cymbals. Cello and drums set a wonderful solid foundation for Mitchell’s flute to fly over. Her swirls build to a speedy, choppy section and a short complex drum solo. Bouncy flute, cello and deft brushes send “Jo Jar” off on a light, dancing feel. Reid plays very well, first bowing then plucking his instrument and allowing every one to follow her lead in this pleasant, warm and melodic performance. “Have Mercy Upon Us” harkens back to the spiritual jazz of the 1960’s with the lower toned flute and cello backing Mitchell as she begins a ceremonial incantation. Long tones of flute are juxtaposed against Mitchell chanting the title phrase over and over in a hypnotic fashion. A solemn cello opens “BK” before drums and spritely flute brighten the scene, building faster, with the flute first chirping and then laying out streams and ribbons of sound. Then there is a nice section of collective improvisation before the final member of the trio gets his solo spot, and Reed makes the most of a solo that is lithe and subtle. "Munkt Munk" has a very angular light scattering sensibility, allowing a wonderful bowed section for Reid and the band as a whole to move through this unusual music with alacrity. Finally, “Light on the Path” opens with Mitchell’s flute playing in an unfettered fashion punctuated by short punchy breaths as the cello and drums are locked in below. This is a great solo that is flying high, calling out to the past masters and the new wave, trading phrases with Reid’s high pitches cello on her return to Earth. The compositions on this album were from older and often founding members of the AACM, and it is clear that tradition of the past has met innovation of the present on this album. This was the goal of the organization from the very beginning, this was a wonderful album and the institution is in good hands. Artifacts -

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