Nicole Mitchell & an_ARCHE NewMusic Ensemble | Arc of O | RogueArt Jazz

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Nicole Mitchell: flute, vocals, electronic samples, composition, conduction | Renée Baker: violin | Mwata Bowden: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, clarinet | David Boykin: tenor saxophone | an_ARCHE NewMusic Ensemble: Rafal Zapala (electronics, percussion, project organizer), Krzysztof Dys (piano), Rafal Gubanski (clarinet), Kuba Jankowiak (trumpet), Kuba Klepczynski (trombone), Agnieszka Kowalczyk (cello), Lukasz Krzeminski (oboe), Remigiusz Strzelczyk (viola), Maciej Strzelecki (violin), Pawel Szpura (drums), Ksawery Wojcinski (double bass)

Recorded live on December 2nd 2010 by Eryk Kozlowski and Kasia Palicka-Kozlowska at Poznan, Poland at the occasion of the “Made in Chicago Festival of Poznan”. Mixing and mastering: Jean-Pierre Bouquet, L’Autre Studio, Vaires-sur-Marne, France. Liner notes: John Corbett. Photographs: Andrzej Hajdasz. Cover design: Max Schoendorff. Cover realization: David Bourguignon, URDLA. Producer: Michel Dorbon

Track list: 1. Arc of O – I (10:03) 2. Arc of O – II (6:06) 3. Arc of O – III (9:12) 4. Arc of O – IV (9:12) 5. Arc of O – V (5:11) 6. Arc of O – VI (3:30) 7. Afrika Rising (15:11)

All compositions by Nicole Mitchell

In the vibrant, searching solos

of tenor saxophonist David Boykin, multiple-reed player Mwata Bowden, violinist Renee Baker, and Mitchell herself, we encounter a bright, buoyant sense of wonder. A breathless “oh!” set against the backdrop of her majestic, brilliantly textured themes. “We recognize the symbol of the ‘arc’ in the branches of trees, the shape of the sky, the passageways of thoughts moving through our brain, and the rivers and streams carved through sand and rock by water.” Mitchell’s is a deeply organic music, playful and joyous and wondrous, but also full of sophisticated layers of emotional complexity, a spectrum of human feeling, the same range succinctly captured in the simple exclamation: “Oh.” Board the arc, feel the curve, enjoy the ride. — John Corbett, excerpt from the liner notes

I personally feel that Arc of O

is a landmark work in my evolution as a composer, as it represented a new direction of writing for me, and it opened a door towards writing for chamber orchestra and then doing fully composed works for full orchestra. — Nicole Mitchell, excerpt from the liner notes

Nicole Mitchell & an_ARCHE NewMusic Ensemble | Arc of O | rogueart jazz

Nicole Margaret Mitchell

has been noted as “a compelling improviser of wit, determination, positivity, and tremendous talent…on her way to becoming one of the greatest living flutists in jazz,” (Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader). A creative flutist, composer and bandleader, Mitchell has been named “Top Flutist 2010 and 2011” by Downbeat Magazine’s Critic’s Polls and also placed first as Downbeat magazine’s “Rising Star Flutist 2005-2011. She was awarded “Jazz Flutist of the Year 2010 and 2011″by the Jazz Journalist Association and ““Chicagoan of the Year 2006” by the Chicago Tribune. The founder of the critically acclaimed Black Earth Ensemble and Black Earth Strings, Mitchell’s compositions reach across sound worlds, integrating new ideas with moments in the legacy of jazz, gospel, pop, and African percussion to create a fascinating synthesis of “postmodern jazz.” With her ensembles, as a featured flutist, and as a music educator, Mitchell has been a highlight at art venues, festivals throughout Europe, the U.S. and Canada. Mitchell has performed with creative luminaries including George Lewis, Miya Masaoka, Lori Freedman, James Newton, Bill Dixon and Muhal Richard Abrams. She also works on ongoing projects with Anthony Braxton, Ed Wilkerson, David Boykin, Rob Mazurek, Hamid Drake and Arveeayl Ra. The first woman president of Chicago’s groundbreaking Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Mitchell works to raise respect and integrity for the improvised flute, to contribute her innovative voice to the jazz legacy, and to continue the bold and exciting directions that the AACM has charted for decades. Mitchell is thankful to mentors and teachers including: Jimmy Cheatham, Donald Byrd, Brenda Jones, Roscoe Mitchell, James Newton, George Lewis, John Eaton, Fred Anderson, Ernest Dawkins, John Fonville, Susan Levitin, Mary Stolper, John Sebastian Winston and Edward Wilkerson.– Much more can be found on her web page by clicking here… or just hit her photoportrait above.


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One thought on “Nicole Mitchell & an_ARCHE NewMusic Ensemble | Arc of O | RogueArt Jazz

  1. Subtitled “for improvisers, chamber orchestra and electronics,” flutist Nicole Mitchell’s genre-busting Arc Of O resonates a little with the almost forgotten Third Stream. Coined by composer/educator Gunther Schuller as a term for a synthesis of classical music and jazz at the end of the 1950s, the label has been subsumed within the jazz world’s ever increasing eclecticism which sees all cultures as fair game. Some of the first improvisers to admit their influences hailed as much from contemporary classicism as the jazz tradition were among the early members of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), including saxophonists Roscoe Mitchell and Joseph Jarman, and pianist and founding member of the movement Muhal Richard Abrams.

    So it’s no surprise that Mitchell, one-time president of the AACM, draws freely from a dizzying range of sources in one of her most ambitious undertakings to date. Extended compositions, such as Xenogenesis Suite, works for the AACM large ensemble and the American Composer’s Orchestra, figure increasingly significant in Mitchell’s oeuvre. Kaleidoscopic shifts characterize the piece: in textures and instruments; dynamics between solo and group; and not least styles. Mitchell sequences her events, which vary from the explosive to the reflective, in seemingly unrelated juxtapositions. But as the piece progresses through its six parts and 45 minute duration, the events are progressively overlapped, in a manner reminiscent of saxophonist/composer Anthony Braxton’s Twelvetet + 1, in which Mitchell participates on occasion.

    Confounding the stereotype that classically trained musicians can’t improvise, the accomplished Polish Chamber Ensemble carry off Mitchell’s polyglot fancies with aplomb, including both the jazzier stretches and those which sound completely spontaneous. Alongside the Poles, Mitchell herself and three other denizens of the Windy City: reedmen David Boykin and Mwata Bowden, and violinist Renee’ Baker, provide additional firepower. The electronics contribute incidental ambient color. Though recurring thematic and melodic matter appears, mutates and reappears throughout, at the larger scale the material and structure is largely non-repeating.

    The four Americans integrate fully into the orchestration. Strings jostle with the horns at the outset of “Arc Of O-II,” before the leader’s fluttering flute expels a bruised lyricism. Later Boykin’s breathy yelping tenor saxophone features heavily, initially alone in rubato meditation, then through various composed sections, and ultimately in ecstatic duet with roiling drums. “Arc Of O-III” shines the spotlight on Bowden’s clarinet, in a folky dance over percolating rhythms and martial drums, before morphing into a klezmer-tinged hoedown. Similarly unexpected transformations become a constant refrain. In “Arc Of O-IV” Mitchell’s choppy flute surfs first a string ostinato, then a rumbustious riff belayed by piano, horns and drums. As the other instruments fall away, the piano riff somehow transmutes into a sparse improvisation on prepared piano strings.

    As if to demonstrate the continuity of her work, Mitchell’s layered multi-event concept carries over into the concluding “Afrika Rising,” reprised from the 2002 album of the same name released on her own Dreamtime imprint. It makes for a rousing finish to a compelling disc. In the liners, the flutist explains that “Arc Of O” has been a turning point, leading to further commissions bridging the jazz and contemporary worlds. If they are all as stimulating as this outing then perhaps they will generate their own terminology.

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