Born: February 17, 1967 Primary Instrument: Flute
One of Chicago's more inspiring jazz visionaries, (Chicago Tribune), Nicole Mitchell is a creative instrumentalist, composer, bandleader and an educator. With her ensembles, and as a featured flutist, she has been a highlight at art venues and festivals throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. A recent recipient of the 2011 Alpert Award and a former president of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Nicole Mitchell explores new sounds and creative techniques as a flutist and as a composer. She has performed with creative luminaries including George Lewis, Miya Masaoka, Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, Myra Melford, Orbert Davis, Lori Freedman and Muhal Richard Abrams. One of very few African American women jazz instrumentalists, Mitchell also works on ongoing projects with Hamid Drake, David Boykin, Ed Wilkerson, Dee Alexander, Rob Mazurek, Harrison Bankhead and Arveeayl Ra. Mitchell was honored to be charted #1 in Downbeat magazine Critic’s Poll for Flutist 2010, Flutist of the Year 2010 by Jazz Journalists Association and was named Chicagoan of the Year 2006 by the Chicago Tribune. Black Earth Ensemble (BEE), and Black Earth Strings (BES), founded by Mitchell, are forums for her compositions and creative vision. Nicole Mitchell is also a recipient of the Illinois Arts Council fellowship for music composition (2005, 2002). Mitchell has been commissioned by the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, Chamber Music America, Ravinia, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the Chicago Jazz Festival and the Jazz Institute of Chicago. Mitchell also does a variety of residencies, workshops and panel discussions in Europe, Canada and the U.S. with a focus on creative music.
Black Earth Ensemble (BEE), founded by Mitchell in 1997, is a forum for her compositions and creative vision. BEE is a multi-genre, multi-generational celebration of the African American cultural legacy. Black Earth Ensemble has performed at the Sons d'hiver Festival (Paris), Guelph Festival (Canada), Le Labbre Nude Festival (Rome), Kerava Jazz Festival (Finland), Mito Festival (Milan) and Nouve Forme Festival (Verona). With Black Earth Ensemble, Mitchell has recorded three critically acclaimed CDs: Vision Quest (Dreamtime), Afrika Rising (Dreamtime), Hope, Future and Destiny (Dreamtime), Black Unstoppable (Delmark) and Xenogenesis (Firehouse 12). Mitchell also leads Black Earth Strings, an acoustic quartet that brings African rhythms, contemporary sounds and swinging improvisation to a chamber music setting. Black Earth Strings recorded Renegades on Delmark Records.
Nicole Mitchell has performed as featured soloist with the Orbert Davis Chicago Jazz Philharmonic at the Auditorium Theater and at Millineum Park in Chicago. (2005-6) In December 2005, Nicole Mitchell performed a special duo concert with pianist Muhal Richard Abrams in celebration of the AACM's 40th Anniversary in Chicago. Ms. Mitchell performed as a soloist with composer George E. Lewis and the International Composer's and Improvisers Ensemble (2003) in Munich, Germany. In Chicago, Mitchell has also been a featured soloist with Chicago's CUBE Ensemble, University of Chicago's Jazz X-Tet, the New Black Repertory Ensemble of Columbia College and the Orbert Davis' Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. She recently was a flute soloist with the Chicago Sinfonietta for a premiere composition by composer Renee Baker.
Nicole Mitchell has written two suites inspired from science fiction writer Octavia Butler. Xenogenesis was supported by Chamber Music America's New Works: Creation and Presentation Program funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and premiered at the Vision Festival in June 2007. In 2010, Mitchell premiered her second suite, Intergalactic Beings at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Mitchell was also an Illinois Arts Council fellow for music composition (2005, 2002). In November 2003, Mitchell unveiled Vision Quest: Hope, Future and Destiny (VQ), a multi-dimensional community project featuring Black Earth Ensemble and a cast of over fifty people in dance, video, acting with live music. This major project was sponsored by the Jazz Institute of Chicago through the support of the Illinois Arts Council.
Mitchell currently directs other projects which include: Sonic Projections with saxophonist David Boykin, pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Chad Taylor. They recorded Emerald Hills (Rogue Art) in 2009. Tindanga Mama (an multi-generational, all- woman ensemble) and the Aaya Sensation (a group showcasing the talents of Mitchell's teenage daughter). In addition to her own projects, she performs with the collective, Frequency (with Ed Wilkerson Jr., Arveeayl Ra and Harrison Bankhead), the Indigo Trio (with Hamid Drake and Harrison Bankhead), the Exploding Star Orchestra (project of Rob Mazurek), the Orbert Davis Jazz Philharmonic, the New Black Reperatory Ensemble (of Columbia College), the Great Black Music Ensemble (of the Chicago AACM) and the David Boykin Expanse (with David Boykin, Josh Abrams, Jim Baker and Mike Reed). Mitchell has also performed in Anthony Braxton's 12tet. Her newest project is the AACM Creative Youth Orchestra, to begin in fall 2006.
In 2005, Mitchell was a faculty member of the Vancouver Creative Music Institute (Canada) and the Sherwood Flute Institute (Chicago). In June 2006, Mitchell returned to Vancouver to work with a large ensemble of talented high school musicians and lead their performance at the Vancouver Jazz Festival and will continue working with them in June 2011.
Mitchell is a Visiting Lecturer of Jazz at University of Illinois, Chicago. She also teaches jazz at Chicago High School for the Arts. Mitchell enjoyed several years sharing music with children in the Chicago Public Schools through support of Music Alive and Ravinia Festival Organization.
Awards:Alpert Award in the Arts 2011 Downbeat #1 Jazz Flutist 2010 Downbeat #1 Rising Star Jazz Flutist 2005-2009 Jazz Flutist of the Year 2010 (Jazz Journalist Association) Chicagoan of the Year 2006 (Chicago Tribune)
Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com
There's both a buzz and an independence about flautist Nicole Mitchell.
Xenogenesis Suite: A
Tribute To Octavia Butler is her second disc for a label other than
own and it marks the
of a singular talent for whom the future holds much promise.
Nic Jones, AllAboutJazz.com
One of the highest compliments I can pay to this recording is that I always
listen to it from beginning to
end, and that I don’t really distinguish between separate tracks. It really is
suite in the sense of a
continuous flow of feeling and atmosphere that pervades the album. It’s
cinematically evocative, and as
such extremely effective in creating a musical version of the science
fantasy inspired by the
work of Octavia Butler.
Dan Melnick, Soundslope
Mitchell’s achievement lies in her coherent assemblage of diverse
musical information to
draw novelty from familiarity. But then again Mitchell has shown herself to
more than capable of
rising above stylistic clichés while staying rooted in the deepest traditions
Kevin Le Gendre, Jazzwise
...this is a remarkable achievement by a still-evolving talent whose
Quest, was only seven years ago. That’s long enough for a full
evolutionary transformation, and
with this set Mitchell seems ready to embark on something even more
radically exciting and
impressively achieved...she’s already beyond category and working at
distance from the tired
debate about composition vs. improvisation. If that isn’t important, I don’t
know what is.
Brian Morton, PointofDeparture.org
Mitchell has composed a suite that is as harrowing as it is beautiful...the
music serves as a true
introduction and counterpart to Butler's groundbreaking work.
Brad Walseth, JazzChicago.net
Flutist Nicole Mitchell has become one of our city’s most respected
artists...her creativity is
always boundless. With Xenogenesis Suite, Nicole Mitchell
created a strikingly
work that will surely be considered a major artistic statement for years to
Jay Collins, JazzGram
Xenogenesis Suite will be an equally gratifying listening
experience for Nicole Mitchell’s
and those who are new to her music...it provides a fine opportunity to
the composer and
arranger, and to discover yet another side of Mitchell’s many talents.
Alain Drouot, jazzColours
From the opening upward flourish of the first movement, the recording is
imbued with a sense of
purpose that underlies every phrase of the beautiful scoring. The
composition certainly invokes
Mitchell’s associations with the AACM, the multimovement work clearly
rooted in the multicultural
conventions birthed by improvisational practices of the 1960s; however,
Mitchell’s harmonies owe a
large debt to contemporary classical music, and her effective blending of
stylistic traits becomes more
apparent upon repeated listening. Her playing is second to none, scaling
heights of register and
virtuosity and making the suite’s conclusion the powerful statement it is.
This is a finely detailed
rendering of a wonderful piece of music, and the playing is first rate.
Marc Medwin, Bagatellen
Mitchell’s music expresses the disoriented wonder of Butler’s imaginary
by subjecting familiar
tonal patterns to oblique treatments: a Black Saint And The Sinner
Lady for our
Philip Clark, Jazz Review
With its churning rhythms, high-intensity blowing and sharp ear for colors,
Suite is quintessentially AACM music with a twist. She takes care of
the ancient roots much
of this music has a haunted, ritual quality that feels very African in its
inspiration while pointing the
way to the musical future midwifed by the AACM for the past 40
John Chacona, Signal to Noise
...one of the few post-9/11 concept albums that succeed in balancing a
heavy concept with solid
Mike Shanley, JazzTimes
Xenogenesis Suite is a very strong and convincing proposition
from flutist Nicole Mitchell.
Moving, intricate and immediate, this album marks a paradigm shift in her
work as a composer, toward
a much more personal voice. Xenogenesis Suite is the kind of
album that gains depth with
Francois Couture, All Music Guide
Indigo Trio: Live in Montreal
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Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.
Masters in Jazz and Classical Flute Performance Has worked with students from kindergarten to college with our without a music background. Has led college jazz ensembles and taught jazz history. Has lectured on topics of creative music, jazz, the AACM, women in music,. Has been a resident guest composer/director for high school, college and professional ensembles.