Thursday, August 30, 2018

Nicole Mitchell - Maroon Cloud (FPE Records, 2018)

Flute player and composer Nicole Mitchell has been a leading light in modern jazz for over twenty years rising to the leadership of the mighty AACM in Chicago before moving to California to take a teaching position. This album was recorded in Brooklyn as part of John Zorn’s Stone Commissioning Series, where Mitchell is supported by Tomeka Reid on cello, Aru├ín Ortiz on piano and Fay Victor providing vocals. Creating a suite of music around the ideas of imagination and resistance, the music develops a unique and evocative presence. "Voodoo Spacetime Kettle" is an ode to the great blues singer Bessie Smith, with some heartbreaking piano and evocative singing, the chords are resonant along with the cello and flute, performing a delicate high wire act, flying as if on a trapeze through open space. Sometimes we all feel the disconnection with reality hinted to in "Otherness" which develops a shifting sense of time and space and its own individual rhythmic pulse, leading into "Nothing Can Stop Us" which takes the tempo back up with an infectious and positive interplay between fl ute and cello, complementing and encouraging each other to soar and explore, taking the music ever higher. Victor is playing with the lyrics in a delightful manner, repeating and scatting phrases and individual words. "Endurance" balances long tones of voice, cello and flute, stretching out and moving into a abstract improvisation with a scraping bow and longing vocalization underpinning the the emotion of this performance, haunting and drifting on air currents. Fluttering flute and strong cello are the foundation of "A Sound" aided by bracing piano and defiant singing. Mitchell's flute soars, not tethered to the ground leading a collective improvisation that includes fresh scatting and sweeping cello. "Hidden Choice" has piercing flute crying in the darkness, with a stark droning sound, opening a wide soundstage that welcomes subtle piano and cello. The dynamic composition "Constellation Symphony" concludes the program with austere piano and crisply played cello. The vocals sweep across the music, with wordless arcs creating a powerful effect when meshed with flute and cello. Maroon Cloud -

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