|Born||February 17, 1967|
Syracuse, New York, U.S.
|Associated acts||Black Earth Ensemble|
Nicole Mitchell (born 1967) is an American jazz flautist and composer who teaches jazz at the University of Pittsburgh. She is a former chairwoman of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).
Mitchell was raised in Syracuse, New York until age eight, when her family moved to Anaheim, California. Her first instruments were piano and viola, which she started playing in fourth grade. She was classically trained in flute and played in youth orchestras as a teenager. Though she intended to major in mathematics in college, she took a class in improvisation from Jimmy Cheatham at University of California, San Diego, and started busking in the streets playing jazz flute. After two years at UCSD, she transferred to Oberlin College in 1987, then moved to Chicago in 1990.In Chicago she performed on the streets and worked for Third World Press, a publisher of black culture. She also met drummer Maia, and bassist, sitarist and storyteller Shanta Nurullah, forming the all-female ensemble Samana and eventually joining the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).
Mitchell returned to school in 1993 and 1996, completing her degree at Chicago State University in 1998; she earned a master's degree from Northern Illinois University in 2000. She began teaching at schools around Chicago at the end of the 1990s, holding positions at Northern Illinois University, Chicago State University, Northeastern Illinois University, Wheaton College, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
In 1995 she met Hamid Drake and worked with him throughout the second half of the decade. In 1997 she began an association with saxophonist David Boykin, who encouraged her to start her own group, leading to Mitchell's establishment of the Black Earth Ensemble. In the early 2000s, she became a co-host for the Avant-Garde Jazz Jam Sessions in Chicago that were started by Boykin, bassist Karl E. H. Seigfried, and drummer Mike Reed.
She issued her debut album Vision Quest with Black Earth Ensemble in 2001 on her label, Dreamtime Records. The album included appearances by Hamid Drake, Savoir Faire, Edith Yokley, Darius Savage, and Avreeayl Ra. Vision Quest was expanded into a theater piece in 2003.
In 2006 she worked in the group Frequency with Harrison Bankhead, Edward Wilkerson, and Avreeayl Ra. Thrill Jockey released their album during that year. Beginning in 2017, she toured and recorded with the Art Ensemble of Chicago.
She joined the music department at the University of California, Irvine as an assistant professor and was promoted to professor in 2013. She participated in the Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology graduate program. In 2019 she moved to the University of Pittsburgh as the Williams S. Dietrich II Chair of Jazz Studies and Professor of Music.
Awards and honors
- Down Beat magazine named her a Rising Star for flute in Critics' Polls of 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. In 2010 and 2011 she won the flute and the Rising Star categories.
- Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, California Institute of the Arts, 2011
- Vision Quest (Dreamtime, 2001)
- Afrika Rising (Dreamtime, 2002)
- Hope, Future and Destiny (Dreamtime, 2004)
- Indigo Trio: Live in Montreal (Greenleaf, 2007)
- Black Unstoppable (Delmark, 2007)
- Xenogenesis Suite (Firehouse 12, 2008)
- Anaya (RogueArt, 2009)
- Renegades (Delmark, 2009)
- Emerald Hills (RogueArt, 2010)
- Before After with Joëlle Léandre and Dylan van der Schyff (RogueArt, 2011)
- The Ethiopian Princess Meets the Tantric Priest (RogueArt, 2011)
- Awakening (Delmark, 2011)
- Arc of O (RogueArt, 2012)
- Three Compositions with Roscoe Mitchell (RogueArt, 2012)
- Aquarius (Delmark, 2013)
- Engraved in the Wind (RogueArt, 2013)
- Intergalactic Beings (FPE, 2014)
- The Secret Escapades of Velvet Anderson (RogueArt, 2014)
- Artifacts with Tomeka Reid and Mike Reed (482 Music, 2015)
- Moments of Fatherhood (RogueArt, 2016)
- Mandorla Awakening II - Emerging Worlds (FPE, 2016)
- Liberation Narratives (Third World, 2017)
- Maroon Cloud (FPE, 2017)
- All Things Are (RogueArt, 2019)
- Earthseed (FPE, 2020) with Lisa E. Harris
- Nicole Mitchell Gantt's University of Pittsburgh faculty webpage
- AllMusic's biography of Nicole Mitchell
- Russonello, Giovanni (January 14, 2019). "Nicole Mitchell to Lead Jazz Program at University of Pittsburgh". The New York Times. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
- Nowlin, Rick (January 14, 2019). "Pitt names Nicole Mitchell as head of jazz studies department". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
- "PowerGreater2". www.pointofdeparture.org. Retrieved 2018-09-02.
- "Nicole Mitchell: West by Midwest - JazzTimes". JazzTimes. Retrieved 2018-09-02.
- Margasak, Peter. "An Improvised Life". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2018-09-02.
- "Before & After Listening Session With Nicole Mitchell - JazzTimes". JazzTimes. Retrieved 2018-09-02.
- "Nicole Mitchell, an Innovative Flutist With an Afrofuturist Vision". Retrieved 2018-09-02.
- Lewis, George (2008). A power stronger than itself : the AACM and American experimental music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-47695-7. OCLC 154689784.
- "BOYKIN, SEIGFRIED, AND REED REUNION". The Chicago Reader. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
- Nicole Mitchell at Allmusic
- "The Independent Ear | Q&A with flute explorer Nicole Mitchell". www.openskyjazz.com. Retrieved 2018-09-02.
- Jazz, All About. "Frequency: Frequency". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2018-09-02.
- "The Art Ensemble of Chicago". AKAMU SAS di Lofoco Alberto. 2019. Retrieved 2019-05-21.
- "Nicole Mitchell | ICIT". music.arts.uci.edu. Retrieved 2018-09-02.
- "ICIT | Integrated Composition Improvisation and Technology – A Graduate Degree in Music at the University of California, Irvine". music.arts.uci.edu. Retrieved 2018-09-02.
- "PhD in Jazz Studies". University of Pittsburgh Department of Music. 2019. Retrieved 2020-05-28.
- "Downbeat Critics Poll 2008" (PDF).
- "Downbeat Critics Poll 2009" (PDF).
- "Downbeat Critics Poll 2010" (PDF).
- "Downbeat Critics Poll 2011" (PDF).
- "Nicole Mitchell | The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts". herbalpertawards.org. Retrieved 2018-09-02.
- "Nicole Mitchell: Discography". AllMusic. 2020. Retrieved 2020-05-28.
- "Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds". FPE records. Retrieved 2017-10-14.
- "Artist: Nicole Mitchell; Title: Mandorla Awakening II - Emerging Worlds". Discovery-records.com. Retrieved 2017-10-14.
- Cohen, Aaron (November 2018). "Nicole Mitchell: Maroon Cloud". DownBeat. Retrieved 2020-05-28.
- West, Michael J. "Nicole Mitchell & Lisa E. Harris: EarthSeed (FPE)". JazzTimes. Retrieved 2020-08-04.
- "The AACM Great Black Music Ensemble". Discogs. Retrieved 2020-06-19.