Jazz Institute of Chicago

Nicole Mitchell:/Black Earth Ensemble: Vision Quest

Nicole Mitchell:/Black Earth Ensemble: Vision Quest

The Black Earth Ensemble is a work-in-progress, a constantly evolving project flautist Niki Mitchell started a couple years ago with a core group composed of bassist Darius Savage and violinist Savoir Faire who is also featured on the viola. As such, it is also a project which brings the next generation of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) to the forefront.

Niki Mitchell follows in the footsteps of the AACM in the sense that she is not trying to fit a certain mold but is looking for her own path. She also exemplifies the organization's motto "Ancient to the Future" by demonstrating respect for the tradition without letting it stifle her. Her compositions cover a lot of ground. They can be dreamy and pastoral, vivacious, rooted in a solid groove or structurally complex making her music quite unpredictable. The young flautist has a definite talent for developing, shifting and intertwining various motives.

"Vision Quest" has a spiritual and poetic quality reinforced by the presence of a very unusual and sprightly front line as Niki Mitchell and Savoir Faire are joined by another violin player: Edith Yokley. Hamid Drake and Avreeayl Ra take turns on drums and percussion lending their considerable experience and skills, and laying a solid foundation.

"Vision Quest" being the first Niki Mitchell's opus as a leader, her work sounds promising. The future of the AACM is in good hands.—Alain Drouot
Available on Dreamtime Records.

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