Sonic Projections (Emerald Hills CD, Rogue Art, Paris, 2008), (The Secret Escapades of Velvet Anderson, Rogue Art, Paris, 2014)
David Boykin tenor sax; Chad Taylor drumset; Craig Taborn piano; Nicole Mitchell flutes, composition
photo by Michael Jackson
"Sonic Projections" makes fewer genre references than Black Earth and it blurs the line between composition and improvisation through continuous musical dialog. They make busy, dancing music, full of graceful interplay over elusive rhythmic pulses. The music is eventful, but it never feels overcrowded. Mitchell is so intent on communicating with her listeners that her music is always clear, uncluttered, and direct.
Her band maintains that clarity, too, focusing on the composition’s structure and intent in their soloing and in their carefully balanced ensemble sound. For instance, they give “Chocolate Chips” a unified performance by letting the jumpy, fragmented theme guide them through a series of duets and solos. “Visitations” takes many twists and turns as it unfolds, opening with a tense, jarring duet for Taborn and Taylor, then winding downward into stillness for a trio of flute, tenor, and piano before Mitchell winds the group back up for a tangled, high-speed conclusion. “Affirmations” weds the spiritual uplift reminiscent of Pharoah Sanders heard in Boykin’s soloing with the band’s chamber AACM leanings, a curious, blissful fusion that’s quite moving. The written material of “Wishes” threads its way behind Mitchell’s lines, which she plays with an airy, spherical tone and a throbbing vibrato, like a less jarring Anthony Braxton composition."
Ed Hazell, Moment's Notice: Point of Departure.com