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Mitchell, Nicole

Entry updated 15 February 2024. Tagged: Music, People.

(1967-    ) US flautist and composer, a member and past chair of Chicago's influential Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). As with many members of that organization, her prolific body of work bridges jazz, improvisation and classical composition. Her first sf-related works were a trilogy inspired by the writings of Octavia E Butler, all credited to Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble: Xenogenesis Suite (first performed 2007; album 2008), Intergalactic Beings (first performed 2010; album 2014) and, in collaboration with Lisa E Harris, EarthSeed (first performed 2017; album 2020).

Each album mixes jazz and chamber instrumentation, and composition and improvisation, not simply to set Butler's ideas to music, but to evoke the disorientation of people displaced in space and Time. The first uses mostly wordless vocals; the second utilizes Mitchell's own adaptation of Butler's Dawn (1987) and Adulthood Rites (1988); the third, Harris's Butler-inspired lyrics.

Mitchell's other sf-inspired album is Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds (2015), in collaboration with the poet avery r young. Together they constitute perhaps the most engaged and thoughtful engagement with Afrofuturist themes by a jazz musician since Sun Ra. [CWa]

Nicole Mitchell

born Syracuse, New York: 17 February 1967


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