Nicole Mitchell: What If


What If


NIcole Mitchell (flute, alto flute, piccolo flute)


Renegades (Delmark DE 587)

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NIcole Mitchell (flute, alto flute, piccolo flute), Josh Abrams (bass, gimbre),

Renee Baker (violin, viola), Tomeka Reid (cello), Shirazette Tinnin (drums, percussion)


Composed by Nicole M. Mitchell


Recorded: December 12-14 2008


Rating: 88/100 (learn more)

The question “what if” implies unlimited possibilities, a lot of which Mitchell explores on this tune, such as, “what if you mix inside-outside jazz and classical with an immovable groove?” Mitchell’s flute attack is like no other, employing a tight vibrato and daring runs up to the top of the flute’s range without cracking any notes. Tinnin’s drum playing is the other standout performance, playing complex, syncopated rhythms with bamboo hotrods that slyly incorporates a strand or two of hip-hop, and practically soloing underneath the band. The entire band performs an eight-note fragment in the middle of the chorus in unison, highlighting the group interplay that’s exceptionally taut throughout.

Nicole Mitchell shows through her compositions like “What If” that she never stops asking that question, and in answering it she comes up with fresh, inspiring ideas.

Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron


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