Nicole Mitchell and the Black Earth Ensemble Hope, Future and Destiny

Nicole Mitchell and the Black Earth Ensemble Hope, Future and Destiny
Chicago flautist and AACM member Nicole Mitchell is back with the Black Earth Ensemble for their third recording. Hope, Future and Destiny is her most ambitious project yet, being the musical component to a live, multidisciplinary production staged in 2003. The theatrical format would undoubtedly suit Mitchell; her first two albums were very well paced, featured plenty of suite-like pieces interspersed with vignettes. She has furthered her heavily African sound on this disc: each tune bursts with strings, percussion and her own gutsy flute playing. The opener, "Wondrous Birth,” has a rolling rhythm pinning down dark harmonies from the brass and strings, but lifted by her celebratory melody on flute. "Curbside Fantasee” gets a groove on with a bumping bass line and break beat-style drums, without losing the warped horn and string heavy arrangements that make it much more than just a jam — this song could make for an interesting remix. The narrative piece "Journey for 3 Blue Stones” is the disc’s centrepiece, with Mitchell reciting a mystical tale (more fully contextualised on the CD’s Quicktime video) over a groove which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Thomas Mapfumo record. Other than Mitchell, who is at the top of her game growling, trilling and vocalising with the flute, the great soloist is Savoir Faire on cello, who positively owns the gorgeous ballad "In The Garden.” Mitchell is firing on all cylinders here, and word is, she’s coming to Canada this summer. (Dreamtime)