Robert Mitchell

Primary Instrument: Keyboard

Born: 1971    

Robert Mitchell


Projects: Robert Mitchell's Panacea (4-6piece band Deborah Jordan Vocals, Tom Mason Bass, Richard Spaven Drums), Robert Mitchell & Omar Puente (piano+Violin duo), Robert Mitchell 3io (pno,bass,dr trio as Panacea), Robert Mitchell and Julien Siegal (piano+sax duo),Solo piano, Robert Mitchell and Corey Mwamba duo (piano+vibes),new one tba....

Robert Mitchell has been twice individually nominated for the BBC Jazz Awards (Best Newcomer,and Best New Work) , winning once as part of the F-ire Collective (Innovation 2004).He has won National and Inernational awards with the groups Quite Sane and J-Life. He has performed in many different projects - with names like Steve Coleman, Norma Winstone, Courtney Pine, Vaughn Hawthorne-Nelson ,I.G.Culture,Greg Osby,The Roots,Steve Williamson,The Jazz Warriors,Keith Waithe,Ty, Sillhouette Brown, Shorter Stories, Ntoumos and Omar Puente & Cubania .He has taken part in a feature film (The Cats Miaow dir. Peter Bogdanovich 2000). As part of a duo project with Cuban violinist Omar Puente - a tv programme was made about the pair in Cuba - featuring a performance in the Havana Jazz Fest (A Todo Jazz 2005). Their debut Cd BRIDGES (F-ire CD16) came out in 2006. Robert's band PANACEA did a BBC Radio1 Session for Gilles Peterson, and performed in the North Sea Jazz Festival (July2006 - Holland) and Vienne Festival (July 2008 France) .Their debut cd VOYAGER (Dune) was released in 2001 (earning the first BBC nomination for Robert). Their 2nd cd TRUST (F-ire CD5) was released in 2005 to fantastic reviews.Robert Mitchell's Panacea was also nominated in the Gilles Peterson Worldwide Awards (for best live session). Robert has been previously commissioned by the Jerwood Trust/BBC and Nuance (a collaboration between Panacea and RPO orchestral musicians ), as well as Nitro/ROH (a opera collab project - in development). His education work has included projects at WAC,City Uni,Middlesex Uni,and the Royal Academy Of Music (Jazz course - as solo,ensemble teacher,and examiner) . He is working with US vocalist Jhelisa Anderson- in both the electric band, and her Nina Simone Project.He also works with unique composer/reedsman Dan Stern, bassist to rock/pop legends Yolanda Charles project The Deep M.O., and US vocalist Jose James (signing to Gilles Petersons Brownswood label). He has also curated a new solo piano festival/event - called Lifting The Lid : A Celebration Of Modern Solo Piano . This took place at the Pizza Express on the 13-15Sept 2007. A solo piano album EQUINOX (F-ire) was launched during the event (F-ireCD15)....
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REVIEWS (CDs, performances etc)


JAZZ CD OF THE WEEK **** “ A young UK virtuoso of McCoy Tyner - like precision, excitement, boldness, and scope . Formidable improvising skills , remarkable breadth and absorbing unpredictability . “ The Guardian

”Tremendous stylistic contrast and narrative richness, an expression of the dynamic solo chops and writing abilities of the man whom his J-Life colleagues refer to as ' The Dark Scientist ' . “ The Voice

”The compositions are complex and challenging . Clever construction reaps huge rewards .... astounding virtusos work from Mitchell . “ The Times

CD OF THE WEEK “ If any one album can sum up the multi-cultural essence of London's newer jazz talent , this is it . “ Evening Standard

**** “ Spellbinding . A truly remarkable talent . Pianist Mitchell has assembled a totally original-soundinf multinational , multicoloured and multirhythmic group . Mitchell and his music deserve to conquer the world ! “ Jazz Express

”Forward - looking rewarding and brilliane.” Jazzwise

”Breathtaking. The hottest young talent on the London scene.” Weekly Journal

”Perfectly sculpting and moulding the piano to a new direction.” Blues and Soul

”Individual and distinctive” The Times

”Surely one of the best of his generation “ Time Out


**** “ Mitchell's debut album is one of the most original , well crafted jazz statements of recent years. Mitchell's playing , composing and arranging abilities are all showcased. The use of voice and, often very subtly, percussion further expands the musical palette. This is one of Britains finest jazz piano albums. “ Jon Opstad - Varsity (Cambridge Uni Magazine)

” Pluggin some kind of gap between Quite Sane, Bjork, and Kaidi Tatham, it's the timely return of wunderking Robert (the dark scientist) Mitchell with the whitehot 'Quantum EP' .This is the super heavy shit - dark matter designed in Mitchell's secret laboratory deep undeground as a musical slap upside all our heads.Robert, if you didn't know,is a mindblowingly good piano player. His compositions are intricate to the extreme, and he has a reputation for providing his fellow musicians with some of the most challenging music available, not a problem for consumate talent like Richard Spaven, Mike Mondesir, Barak Schmool, Volker Strater, and Deborah Jordan though. These stunning new works present Mitchell in a sonic change of clothes. The familiar timbe of the piano heard on Quite Sane,JLife and the previous Panacea album ' Voyager ' has been supplemented by electric keyboards, which combined with Spaven's jazz-funk drumming,marks the final and complete shattering of any restraints imposed by straight-ahead jazz expectants. All four tracks are superb, if angular , songs, with Deborah's delicate voice offsetting Mitchell's evocative string arrangements to a tee . Available through the website for £5.50, that's four masterworks at £1.37 and a haypennt each! If nothing has been truly scatching that hard-to-reach itch of late, this is the one to get. Trrrrrrrust. (DM) Straight No Chaser (spring2004)


”Mitchell's piano-playing is like a fusion of a young McCoy Tyner and Herbie Hancock recast with elements of contemporary British funk and improv,with an unpragmatic indifference to familiar melodies or sitting on grooves all night that's more suggestive of contemporary classical music.Mitchell has appeared in more conventional bands including J-Life and Quite Sane,but once he was running his own show it became clear that this resourceful and erudite pianist/composer's horizons were a great deal wider.The younger British contemporary scene has previously lacked its Steve Coleman,a formidable improvisor/composer bodly searching for new sharp-end jazz forms deploying both straight music and new funk.But in Robert Mitchell the search might be over.” Guardian (Preview-Jan 2005)

”But the pianist came into his own with a couple of mesmerising,ambient-inclined originals. Cumulus brought the three so close together it was hard to tell where soprano sax( Julian Siegal) ended and (Norma) Winstone( vocal) began,and Mitchell's seamlessly rolling keyboard drone would still have been captivating if it had gone on for the rest of the set.” Guardian (Feb 2005)

”In what amounted to a mini-festival within the “Rhythm Sticks” season, the London-based F-IRE Collective presented an evening of wildly contrasting music, emphasising the organisation’s friendly eclecticism. F-IRE was described by the pianist Robert Mitchell as “an ever-growing party”, and despite an atmosphere muted by the day’s terrorism events, an attractively informal and inclusive spirit prevailed.

Mitchell’s ten-part suite Equinox was commissioned by the Jerwood Trust and BBC Radio 3 in 2002, and nominated for a BBC Jazz Award for Best New Work. In its full glory it lasts for ninety minutes, though what we heard was a version condensed down to an hour’s music. Mitchell generates an austere intensity from a mixture of Satie-esque stasis and Debussian harmonic colours (via Bill Evans), illuminated by jazz inflection and flashes of mercurial passagework. When his right-hand breaks into free-flowing runs it is thrilling in its grace and agility; it would be good to hear the work expanded to its full potential, with more space for improvisatory adventures (a recording is slated for next January). But the music’s beauty derives from its restraint, in a delicate flowering of melody over a hypnotic single-note pulse (‘Each Bird Must Sing’) or the inward spiral of harmony in ‘Equinocturne’. The work, Mitchell told us, is “dedicated to peace … so it isn’t going out of fashion anytime soon”. - reviewed by Rob Witts (july 2005)

John Fordham
Wednesday September 7, 2005
The Guardian

Former Tomorrow's Warriors pianist Robert Mitchell often seems like a man brooding over a chess problem. Considering that he made a mark in the 1990s in the young and funky crossover bands Quite Sane and J-Life, and climbed high enough up the local jazz pyramid to open the show for Wayne Shorter on a recent tour, such a private manner might come as a surprise.

But Mitchell is the very model of a postmodern jazz musician. He seems to pore over the intricacies of jazz, soul, funk, Latin and classical music, moving them restlessly around like pieces on a board. You rarely feel that Mitchell is much tempted by the playful urge of many jazz musicians to see how one string of notes sounds against another, just for the hell of it. He is, however, a brilliant pianist with a thoroughly individual sound and approach; every year he seems to get closer to realising his dream of what all his favourite idiomatic ingredients might perfectly mix down to.

Mitchell is launching a new CD with his band Panacea, called Trust, on the F-ire Collective's label. F-ire's devotion to cross-genre, percussion-dominated rhythmic innovation was clear at Mitchell's gig, with Volker Strater and Richard Spaven sharing the percussion duties. Mitchell's interest in the rhythmic counterpoints between percussion, sax lines, vocals and streaming Herbie Hancockish double-time piano often produced the engaging atmosphere of a kind of animated trance. His playing was constantly diverting, notably in a phenomenal solo display of buzzing runs, jarring chords, light-speed lyricism and bumping cross-rhythms near the end of the first set.

Several pieces built from long, winding soul melodies through intensifying collective playing to big finales. Some explored new twists on Latin rhythms, or overlaid themes in dreamy ballads. Mitchell doesn't write many tunes that you can whistle in the street, but he's a highly focused original who's heading where he's heading no matter what.

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    The Glimpse

    Whirlwind Recordings Ltd
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    The Cusp

    Edition Records
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    The Greater Good

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    Robert Mitchell: Equinox

    F-IRE Records
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    F-IRE Records

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CD/LP/Track Review

The Glimpse by Bruce Lindsay

The Cusp by Alex J Watson

The Greater Good by Bruce Lindsay

Live Reviews

Robert Mitchell & Omar Puente at St. Cyprian's, London

Extended Analysis

Robert Mitchell: Equinox

CD/LP/Track Review

Trust by Chris May

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