Mitchell, Nicole - Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds
"Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds is Nicole Mitchell's second album for Chicago-based FPE Records. Recorded in May of 2015 at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, it features her longtime collaborators Renee Baker (violin), Tomeka Reid (cello, banjo), Alex Wing (electric guitar, oud) and Jovia Armstrong (percussion), along with new members Tatsu Aoki (bass, shamisen, taiko) and Kojiro Umezaki (shakuhachi). Also in the mix is Chicago artist, scholar and poet avery r young, who brings the her lyrics to life with visceral humanity. Composer and flutist Nicole Mitchell, once hailed by Chicago Reader music critic Peter Margasak as the "greatest living flutist in jazz", continues the work begun when jazz visionary Sun Ra and his Arkestra first touched down on Planet Earth and told humanity that space (outer and inner) is indeed the place. As with contemporary Afrofuturist pioneers like cosmic jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington, post-everything beat maker Flying Lotus, R&B cyborg Janelle Monáe and dystopian noise-rappers Death Grips, she uses Afrofuturism as a platform to launch her own, unique vision. Her vast sound often encompasses contemporary classical, globally oriented fusion, gospel, spoken word, funk-inspired groove research and even brittle shards of avant-rock. Mandorla Awakening II collides dualities such as acoustic vs electric, country vs urban, simple vs complex, while also sounding through intercultural dialogue between Black, European and Pan-Asian improvisational languages. The outcome is a creative music suite that blurs musical styles into recognizable fragments that weave a unique sound fabric, where human emotion and the struggles of today swim."