Nicole Mitchell Black Earth Strings Renegades

Renaissance woman and AACM president Nicole Mitchell continues to broaden her horizons with this release. Veering between jazz's characteristic swing and chamber music, which relies on a different type of group dynamic, Renegades is a stimulating listen. She's had time to dwell on the material — it's been ten years since the group formed — and the playing is more assured as a result. But when the group take on a piece like "Wade" (aka "Wade In The Water"), its utter familiarity to the canon of African American culture provides even more grounding to the wilder, more atonal parts of the disc. The quintet, composed of women (save for stalwart Josh Abrams on bass and Moroccan gimbre), expand upon musical ideas found in her primary Black Earth Ensemble, which often contain string passages but never anything so exquisitely detailed. In many respects, this configuration is a better showcase for Mitchell's flute than her usual louder band. (Delmark)